'Vulnerable' penguins named Ryan and Rob after Wrexham FC owners at Chester Zoo

Two Humboldt penguin chicks named after Wrexham AFC’s Hollywood owners have taken their first swimming lessons at a zoo.

Penguin keepers at Chester Zoo named the three-month-old penguins after the owners of “one of their favourite” local football teams in order to raise more awareness for the “iconic” birds.

The penguins, born in April, named Ryan, after Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, and Rob in tribute to TV comedy actor Rob McElhenney, can now showcase their species’ “excellent” swimming and diving skills after shedding their baby feathers and leaving the nest.

The Humboldt penguin is “one of the most threatened” in the world. Credit: Chester Zoo

Native to Chile and Peru, the penguins are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened species due to overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change.

Humboldt penguins use their swimming and diving abilities to hunt for fish, squid, and small crustaceans, Chester Zoo said.

They are considered “medium-sized,” with a height of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimetres) and weighing between eight and 14 pounds (3.6 to 5.9 kilograms).

The penguins are able to swim now they have waterproof feathers. Credit: Chester Zoo

Zoe Sweetman, team manager of penguins and parrots at Chester Zoo, said: “After hatching out of their eggs only a few months ago, these two youngsters have been closely cared for by their parents while snuggled up in their nests.

“But now they’ve shed their fluffy grey feathers and developed their multi-layered waterproof feathers.

“Watching as they tentatively make a splash is a real joy and within minutes they did what comes naturally to them, and now they’re zooming through the waters at high speed.”

She added that previously the zoo has named other penguin chicks after brands of “crisps and chocolate bars” to create “much-needed” attention for the species.

“Each year our team enjoys choosing a different naming theme for the chicks to help garner some much-needed attention for the species; we’ve previously had brands of crisps, chocolate bars and types of fruit,” she said.

“This year, as one of our penguin keepers is a huge fan of the local football team, Wrexham AFC, we decided to do something a little different and name the two new male arrivals after Wrexham’s Hollywood owners.

“They’re both so full of personality and charisma – so it seemed rather fitting; their diving skills are already spot-on.”

The penguins are native to Chile and Peru. Credit: Chester Zoo

Ms Sweetman emphasises the importance of wildlife conservation at Chester Zoo and what it takes to protect the future of species like the Humboldt penguin.

She said: “We hope we can help spread some much-needed awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and inspire more people to take small, daily steps in playing an active role in protecting the future of species like the Humboldt penguin.

“Some very simple things we can all do are using less single-use plastics, eating sustainably caught fish and reducing energy use – even if it’s just a little – that contributes to the warming of the seas.”

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