On August 15 as India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day, the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan Zoo in Mumbai, witnessed something very special as it welcomed new life, in the form of a Humboldt penguin chick!
The Director of the Zoo, Dr. Sanjay Tripathi, said that the chick hatched at 8.02 pm on Wednesday -- that it appeared to be active and that the mother flipper was trying to feed it.
Aditya Thackeray, who was a proponent of the initiative to bring penguins to India, tweeted, "We have some great news coming in from Rajmata Jijamaya Udyaan (Byculla Zoo)! Our parents have delivered a freedom baby! The parents and the chic are doing well. My congratulations to all those involved in this process, especially Dr. Tripathi & his team and Sudhir Naik ji!"
Penguin Flipper, the eldest of the seven (now eight) penguins in the zoo, laid a single egg on July 5 this year. She, along with Mr Molt- the youngest penguin, have been a couple for a long time now. Flipper is a four-and-half year old while Mr Molt turned three recently.
It was in 2011 that the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) first proposed to bring Penguins to the Mumbai Zoo. It was a part of a planned revamp of the zoo, which was announced in 2009.
Uddhav Thackeray had in 2009 expressed his desire to get Polar bears to India. However, two years later they finalised on Penguins. Penguins are endemic to the Southern hemisphere and thrive in frigid habitats, also spending vast periods in the ocean. Hence, before their arrival in 2016, the BMC arranged a quarantine facility with adjustable temperature. On July 26, 2016 three male and five female Penguins were brought from Seoul in South Korea. The penguins who were quarantined for three months were later shifted to another larger enclosure in May 2017 for public display.
Unfortunately, in 2016, Dory, an 18-month-old Humboldt penguin died in the zoo. This resulted in a political row and various animal activist going against the idea of bringing penguins.
ABOUT HUMBOLDT PENGUINS
These are South American penguins that breed in coastal Chile and Peru. The penguins are named after the cold water current it swims in, which itself is named after the explorer- Alexander Von Humboldt. They grow around 22 to 28 inches tall and weigh around four to 10 kilograms and have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. The Humboldt penguins are declining in number owing to over-fishing, ocean acidification and climate change. They are social penguins with peaceful behaviour and hence are suited for life in zoo.