23 June 2020

Paultons Park new penguins to be named by children’s hospital

It’s a hat trick! Paultons Park welcomes three new Humboldt penguin chicks

While the doors may currently be closed and the rides at a standstill at Hampshire’s Paultons Park – the UK’s number one family theme park and the home of Peppa Pig World – there is still plenty to celebrate with the successful arrival of not one – but three! – new Humboldt penguin chicks to the park’s breeding colony.

Betty and Percy, who are 16 and 8 years old, hatched their new chick in April, making them Paultons Park parents second time around. Their previous chick, Pumpkin, hatched four years ago and still lives in the park’s penguin colony.

April’s new arrival was just the fifth penguin chick to hatch at Paultons since the establishment of the colony.

But with another penguin pair, Perry and Darcey, hatching two new chicks just a few weeks later, it’s clear that the breeding programme at the park is going from strength to strength. James Mancey, Operations Director at Paultons Park, said:

We are all delighted to welcome the three new chicks to our Humboldt penguin colony. Our penguins are one of the most popular livestock attractions with guests to Paultons Park, so I’m sure that a visit to see the new chicks will be the highlight of many people’s day when we are able to re-open!”

As an officially designated ‘vulnerable’ species, there are estimated to be only in the region of 12,000 Humboldt penguins left in the wild. The species is experiencing a serious decline, with major causes thought to be the over-fishing of prey, entanglement in fishing nets and the commercial removal of guano, thereby removing the penguins’ natural nesting habitat. As such, captive breeding programs such as those in operation at Paultons Park are key to contributing directly to the conservation of the species. James added,

It is fairly unusual for Humboldt penguins to successfully raise two chicks to adulthood. Perry and Darcey have bred once before, but as inexperienced parents were unable to look after the chick, which was hand-reared by one of our livestock keepers. That’s why we are very proud of Perry and Darcey’s achievement this season.”

Paultons Park is currently working with its nominated charity, Southampton Hospitals Charity, to name the new penguin chicks. A shortlist of potential names will be created by the children under the care of Southampton Children’s Hospital, with the winners chosen by the Paultons Park communities on the Park’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.

Jeneen Thomsen, Interim Joint Director of Southampton Hospitals Charity said:

The children at Southampton Children’s Hospital are so excited to have been asked to help name the new penguin chicks at Paultons Park. We have around 200 in-patients currently, so we’re sure that they’ll have great fun coming up with some brilliant names.”

The Humboldt penguin colony is just one element of Paultons Park’s extensive zoo attractions. The Park’s 140 acres of grounds includes a large collection of exotic birds, plus the themed land Little Africa which showcases many of the continent’s most fascinating animals such as meerkats, fennec foxes and porcupines.

Paultons Park is currently preparing for re-opening in line with government policy. Updates on opening dates, health and safety measures and operational changes to manage the enjoyment and wellbeing of guests will be announced in due course.

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