Meet the Adorable Baby Penguins Named After Their Zookeepers' Favorite Fruits

·3 min read
Meet the Adorable Baby Penguins Named After Their Zookeepers' Favorite Fruits

Chester Zoo has a lively fruit bowl of new arrivals on its hands.

The English zoo welcomed its latest brood of Humboldt penguins in April and the chicks have started venturing around their enclosure.

On Friday, zookeepers announced the nine new babies have each been named after a keeper's favorite fruit, starting with little Plum and followed by Peach, Papaya, Cherry, Rhubarb Satsuma, Lemon, Banana and Iona-Berry.

The brand-new baby Humboldt penguins may not look like what you picture when you picture a tuxedo-clad little bird, but after they're born they grow quickly. The little gray babies weighed about 2 ounces when first hatched, but grew quickly to 6 pounds in their first three weeks.

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"There's nothing quite like hearing tiny chirps coming from the penguin nests and seeing little balls of fluff snuggled up with their parents just moments after hatching," Sophie Bissaker, Parrots and Penguins Keeper at Chester Zoo, said in a statement released Friday.

"And, over the course of just a few weeks, we've been lucky enough to hear lots of those chirps as nine new chicks have now hatched. Penguin Island is buzzing with activity."

penguin chicks
penguin chicks

Chester Zoo

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Iona-Berry's special moniker –– which has both a human name and a fruit in it –– honors veterinarian Iona Mathieson who worked with one of the chick's parents, Munch, and saved their eyesight.

"Zookeepers have a trend of naming the penguins using a different theme each year and previously we've had brands of crisps, chocolate bars and in 2020, our NHS Heroes," Bissaker said. "After some serious thought, we've decided to name this year's class after different types of fruit!"

penguin chicks
penguin chicks

Chester Zoo Full grown South American Humboldt penguin

Both attentive parents have been able to teach their youngsters how to swim and navigate zoo life – including catching food for themselves – now that the babies have emerged from their nests.

"In a few weeks they'll shed their fluffy gray feathers to reveal their iconic black and white feathers underneath, which are waterproof and help them zoom through the water!" Bissaker said.

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Of the world's 18 species of penguins, Humboldt penguins are one of the most at risk of extinction.

The birds are threatened by climate change, overfishing of food sources, and rising sea temperatures that have made their usual habitats inhospitable. As a result, the penguins are forced to search further from their nests for fish, increasing their vulnerability to predators.

penguin chicks
penguin chicks

Chester Zoo Penguin chicks at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is committed to conservation and education, with more than 27,000 animals from nearly 600 species calling the place home.

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Many of the animals are endangered, and the zoo supports field projects in 20 countries around the world that work to prevent the extinction of highly threatened species