WITH the new school term now in full swing, a class of penguin pupils have just started in creche at Chester Zoo.
Five Humboldt penguins who were born in spring have moved into a nursery pool at the zoo to learn some penguin basics.
Just as school children learn their ABCs and 123s, the young penguins are learning how to swim, hunt and feed in water.
Lead keeper Anne Morris said: “The chicks, which are the penguin equivalent of toddlers, have settled into our penguin crèche really well indeed.
“We have a small, shallow nursery pool which is the ideal place for them to take their first swim. They quickly figure out how to take fish from our keepers and no longer rely on regurgitated food from mum and dad. It’s all part of their education and helps to build up their confidence.
“All five of the chicks are coming along nicely and it shouldn’t be too long until they all ‘graduate’ and join the rest of the colony in our main pool.”
The penguins are an endangered South American species from the coastal areas of Peru and Chile. The new arrivals mean the zoo has a colony of more than 40.
Each year keepers at the zoo name their new charges after a particular theme. In 2012 their clutch got their names from Team GB Olympic stars and this time around they have been named after icons from the hit TV show Doctor Who, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Keeper Karen Neech said: “Dalek, Tardis and Gallifrey are showing a great appetite for learning but The Doctor is top of the class. Sonic is a little further behind the others but given a few more lessons, we’re sure he’ll catch up.”
Chester Zoo funds conservation initiatives in the penguins’ homeland to help them in their natural habitat where they face many pressures including
over-fishing of their food and habitat loss.