Penguin chick hatches at Calgary Zoo after quick repair on broken egg


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A new king penguin chick was successfully hatched by staff at the Calgary Zoo last week after a close call with a broken egg.

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According to a news release on the zoo’s website, the egg was laid by mom Antoinette — a 27-year-old king penguin brought to Calgary from Montreal in hopes of breeding her. While Antoinette laid the egg, it was left in the care of another momma penguin, Diana, who has previously raised two other penguin chicks.

The zoo says Antoinette and her mate Louis are considered founders to the North American king penguin population because they have no relatives in the zoo population and have never hatched a successful chick.

Penguin eggs have a two-month incubation period, and the egg was due to hatch on Aug. 11. However, over the August long weekend, staff found bits of eggshell and realized the egg had been cracked early.

“A badly broken shell so many days before hatching is very bad news,” the zoo’s news release says.

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The chick wasn’t expected to hatch for about another week, so the veterinary team patched the porous shell with a piece of shell from a Humboldt penguin egg from years before, and the egg was placed in an electronic egg incubator.

After a few rough days, the little chick tried to hatch by itself, piping through a small hole elsewhere in the egg.

Once hatched and given fluids and antibiotics, the chick was handed over to foster mom Diana. Zookeepers and veterinarians will continue to monitor the chick closely to make sure it has the best chance of survival.

It’s breeding season in the penguin colony at the moment, and zoo spokeswoman Alison Archambault says eggs can sometimes be in danger.

“Everyone is paying attention to everyone else’s eggs,” Archambault says. “There’s some egg stealing. There’s a lot of activity going on.”

The zoo says that having a chick with new genetics is important to the king penguin species survival plan.

– With files from Canadian Press

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