The Belfast Zoological Gardens had a flurry of new birds recently with the hatching of five penguin chicks. In March this year, Belfast Zoo welcomed 40 Edinburgh penguins to the penguin enclosure, while essential maintenance work was carried out to their Edinburgh pool.
Their arrival coincided with the start of the penguin breeding season and keepers immediately began to install nests in the enclosure. The male gentoo penguins then set to work to fill the nests with pebbles and stones. The nests are so prized by females that often male penguins can obtain a mate by offering the female a nice pebble.
"Edinburgh Zoo contacted us when they realised that maintenance work needed to be carried out to their pool. We were already home to 20 gentoo penguins and we were more than happy to accommodate the 'holidaying' birds," said zoo manager, Mark Challis. "We take part in more than 90 breeding programs but this has been an especially successful partnership between the two zoos, as five of Edinburgh Zoo's female birds have welcomed chicks so far. We are hopeful that we will soon hear the pitter patter of many more little feet in the penguin enclosure."
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.