Staff at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham have hunted out a very special type of egg this Easter. The team at the aquarium are excited to have spotted an egg in one of the penguin nests.
If it hatches, the egg will be the colony’s first fluffy new arrival in two years after the last successful breeding in 2017.
Keepers had been keeping their fingers crossed that Prince, their young one-year-old male Gentoo penguin who has been labeled “Britain’s Loneliest Penguin’’ after not finding love during his first mating season last year, had finally found the female of his dreams.
And after two months of trying, the youngster made his advances on his sweetheart and older female Hyacinth, and took her dozens of rocks - the love tokens of the penguin world - and plans seemed to have worked.
Staff were delighted to spot an egg on 4-year-old Hyacinth’s nest and will be keeping their fingers crossed they are all able to welcome a chick in the coming months.
Alan Kwan, Displays Supervisor at the National Sea Life Centre said: “We are just thrilled to have found an egg and this is better than any chocolate variety the Easter bunny could have brought us."
Staff will not know for around another month if they will be welcoming the pitter patter of tiny penguin flippers to the colony.
If successful, this will be a crucial achievement as part of Sea Life’s global breeding programme of the Gentoo penguin species.
With Gentoo penguin populations having declined in recent years, owing to the birds’ sensitive breeding nature and damage to their habitats, the species has been listed as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN red list for many years and colonies like Prince’s may one day provide a vital lifeline for the threatened species.