As Lorde once sang, “we’ll never be royals” — but the same cannot be said for a new, decidedly regal baby penguin recently introduced to the world (and her loyal subjects) by the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium in Ohio.
All hail “Her Majesty Gertrude Sprinklebottom,” female Humboldt penguin chick born Feb. 19 in the Shores region of the zoo! Keepers call her Gertrude for short, and they report that this petite penguin royal is the 30th Humboldt chick to hatch at the zoo.
“Her Majesty Gertrude Sprinklebottom (aka Gertie) is growing up fast! Her Royal Highness now weighs well over 2 pounds and the Shores animal care team has started to hand feed her solid fish — like teeny tiny trout and silversides cut in half,” the zoo writes in a Facebook post.
“Gertie still receives her primary feedings from her foster parents, but these supplemental feedings play an important role. When HRH Gertie is older, she will waddle with the colony during keeper talks for feedings from the animal care staff. Plus, this way we know exactly how much food each penguin consumes! She is also super vocal, and animal care staff say that although guests may not be able to see her while she’s in the nest — you can certainly hear her!”
Gertie is being raised by penguin pair, Asela and Chirriante, who are fostering the recent hatchling, instead of her biological parents Katja and Hans. Adela, born in 2012 at the Columbus Zoo, is an attentive foster mom. Chirriante, an older fellow born in 1992 in Dresden, Germany, is also carefully keeping watch of their ward within the nest box. Once foster mom and dad feel more comfortable allowing their little princess to wander outside of the nest, guests will get to see more of her.
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According to the zoo, this newborn chick is one of seven new “zooborns” welcomed there over the winter months. Others include five Asian small-clawed otter pups and a silver leaf langur baby. Gertrude is “an important addition to the Humboldt penguin species,” the zoo states in its press release. “The populations … are declining in their native habitats due to threats including environmental variability and human-wildlife conflict.”
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of only 19 facilities in North America that participates in the AZA’s Humboldt Penguin SSP breeding program.