Humboldt penguins are native to the coasts of certain South American countries, including Chile and Peru to name a few. On the other hand, the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary in England has its own Humboldt penguin family that are being cared for by the institution’s staff as a part of an international breeding program.
The creatures aren’t doing too well in the wild, as land development in their native habitats has led to severe habitat loss and resulted in declines to their natural population. With just over 30,000 individuals in the wild today, it’s hoped that this breeding program will help boost their numbers before they get dangerously lower.
Just a few weeks ago, the sanctuary was lucky enough to experience its first penguin chick hatchling in over 10 years, and they’re temporarily calling the little creature Fluffy McFluffyface until its gender can be determined – a process that could take up to three months.
Image Credit: Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary
Sanctuary staff are reportedly hoping the chick is a female because that would make McFluffyface eligible to participate in the international breeding program that’s going on behind the scenes. If it’s a male, it is expected to receive the name Baby Pip, while Baby Pippa is the name chosen if it's a female.
“The whole team is bursting with joy at the arrival of our first ever penguin chick - we are all beaming like we are new parents ourselves,” said Hunstanton aquarist Hollie Stephenson. “Humboldt penguins are an extremely vulnerable species and it is the first time we have had a penguin chick here at the sanctuary,”
According to experts at the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, the chick is doing well and appears to be healthy. To ensure it grows properly and under the best conditions, McFluffyface gets weighed at least twice a day to ensure it keeps its weight on and eats properly; when born, the chick weighed just 92 grams.
With around-the-clock care and a healthy family that won't be going anywhere any time soon, Fluffy McFluffyface should grow up to be big and strong, just like the parents.