King Penguins to begin hatching at Sealife Melbourne Aquarium

First published in The Age 22 January 2015

Photo of King Penguins at Melbourne Aquarium incubating eggs. Photo Janene Trickey.

Mum and dad take turns incubating these eggs by placing them on their feet and rolling their stomachs over them to keep warm.

Hopefully, 55 days later, a baby King Penguin will hatch – part of the breeding program at Sealife Melbourne Aquarium.

All of the aquarium’s penguins have been bred in captivity and cannot be released to the islands surrounding Antarctica where their native cousins live. They prefer to be in large colonies, but some of the chicks may be sent to other attractions to become part of their breeding programs.

“We have had a very successful King breeding program with five chicks born here last year,” bird manager Sarina Walsh said. “We were the first in Australia to successfully breed Kings and we’ve gone from two to five and who knows this year what will happen?”.

“Penguins in the wild are looking at becoming threatened. Some of the different species are threatened because of over-fishing, climate change and sea ice-cap melting,” Ms Walsh said.

King Penguins are the second-largest breed, after the Emperor Penguins who live in the coldest parts of Antarctica. Kings are among the most dedicated parents with a breeding cycle of between 14 to 16 months.

The eggs are expected to begin hatching shortly.

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