We’ve got a special bit of news for you this #ConservationWeek – a kororā / little penguin chick has hatched at the Zoo!

Hatching on 29 August, the chick is now ten days old and is being cared for and hand-reared by our bird and veterinary teams. The chick initially weighed just 34 grams when it hatched and in ten days it has tripled its weight to 112 grams. Check out this video that our birds curator Juan took of the chick hatching out!

As many of you know, our kororā colony at the Zoo are all wild rescues. These birds were found either sick or injured in the wild and were brought to our veterinary hospital, by our partners like the Department of Conservation, for treatment. While these kororā were able to be successfully treated by our team, they were not able to be released back into the wild due to their disabilities – including in some cases having only one flipper which limits their ability to dive and find food in the water.

In previous years, in a large part because of these disabilities, our colony has not been successful in rearing their own chicks. This breeding season, our bird team decided to step in to help hand rear the chicks to help ensure survival and create a self-sustaining kororā colony at Auckland Zoo.

Once the bird team knew the egg was fertile, it was retrieved from the nest box and brought to our special behind the scenes incubation room to complete the incubation process. Removing eggs from nests is a common strategy in conservation breeding, as it leads to birds re-laying another clutch of eggs (a process that is known as double clutching) and isn’t stressful for the birds.

Our bird team are feeding the penguin chick a diet of fish slurry and vitamins six times a day, which is carefully prepared to the right temperature for the bird to digest. As of this week, we are starting to transition the chick to solid food, offering small pieces of fish and weaning it off of the slurry. The entire rearing process will take roughly two months, which will include a stint at ‘swim school’ so it can build up its swimming skills.  

Currently, this kororā chick is being cared for in a brooder in the public gallery of our veterinary hospital meaning you can visit it! Listen out to the PA when you visit as you may be able to watch one of the feeds as they happen. 

Stay tuned to our social channels so we can keep you updated on the chick’s growth and development – including when the chick is able to be sexed and named.