Marwell Zoo's Humboldt penguin chicks fledge their nests to join adults by the pool

Credit: Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo's Humboldt penguin chicks have fledged their nests to join the adults by the pool.

Health checks were carried out on the chicks to make sure they are growing as expected and do not have any health issues.

Marwell’s Acting Veterinary Services Manager, Dr Sarah Jayne Smith, said: “We give all penguin chicks that are hatched at Marwell a health check and we try and do this before they leave the nest.

Credit: Marwell Zoo

“I listen to their heart and their respiratory system with a stethoscope - birds have a very complicated but interesting respiratory system that’s different to mammals; they have lungs and air sacs.”

The health checks were carried out before the chicks fledged the nest and joined the rest of the colony by the pool.

Dr Smith continued: “I check the colour inside their mouths as that gives me an indication of how efficiently their heart and respiratory system are working, and I can also check that their beak and tongue looks ok.

“I feel their stomach (coelom) to make sure their organs feel normal and check the condition of their feathers and feet before the keepers put them on the scales to find out how much they weigh.

Credit: Marwell Zoo

“I also take a small blood sample from a vein in the chick’s foot. I send this away to find out if our chicks are boys or girls – it can be very hard to tell in penguins, even when they are adults.

“Finally, we inject a small microchip between the chick’s shoulder blades, just like your vet would for your cat or dog.

“The microchip contains a unique number which helps us identify the penguin as it grows up.”

Humbolt penguins are native to the coasts of Chile and Peru and are listed as vulnerable to extinction with populations decreasing.