Mumbai: First-ever Humboldt baby penguin born on Independence Day

Mumbai: India’s first-ever Humboldt Penguin was born on Wednesday night at Veermata Jijabai Udyan while India was celebrating its Independence Day. Sanjay Tripathi, veterinary doctor and in-charge of the zoo, told the Free Press Journal that the new-born baby penguin’s health is good and that it is being taken care of by Mr Molt and Flipper (the father and mother penguin) and the doctors.

“The baby penguin weighs 75 grams, is nearly 3 to 4 inches in height and its skin colour is greyish. The 40-day incubation period got over on August 15 and around 5:30 pm the egg developed the first crack. We were waiting with a lot of anticipation since it was a first-time pregnancy. At 8.02 pm, a tiny baby Humboldt crawled out of the egg shell,” said Tripathi. Tripathi said that the newly-born Penguin’s excreta, or any other feature, will be sent for DNA sampling to the laboratory at Bangalore and only then can doctors confirm its gender. After DNA tests if the baby penguin’s chromosomes are X+Y it will be a male and if it is XX, it will be a female.

The mother and father penguin, Flipper and Mr Molt, were given food like every day at around 8:30 am by the Byculla zoo doctor. “They both ate food and the mother tried to feed regurgitated fish to the baby. Penguins have a york system in their stomach. So, whenever a Penguin is born, they can stay without food for at least three days. So, even if the parents do not feed or newly-born penguins do not eat, then too there is no such tension due to the nature’s gift provided to them,” said Tripathi.Madhumati Kale, the head Veterinary doctor at Byculla zoo, along with Tripati, two more doctors and three keepers were present for over 24 hours to keep a close watch during the hatching process. Kale said, “The parents of the penguin will now do brooding of the baby. Once the penguin hatches out of the shell the parents brood them in order to provide heat to the new born to help it acclimatise with the temperature for three months.”

Interestingly, the baby Penguin is born in grey, and will get its white strips two years later. Kale also said the mother and father have to brood the newly-born Penguin for three months and once that is over, they can lay another egg. Usually the mating season of penguins is March-April and October-November. The Flipper Penguin laid an egg on July 5 and the egg hatched on August 15.

The Byculla zoo was open on Wednesday due to Independence day and was closed on Thursday. Usually, the zoo is kept closed, on Thursday but after the birth of the Penguin, to avoid curious crowds, it remained closed.  Presently, the Byculla zoo has seven penguins and the other male Penguin, Bubble, has no partner, the zoo authority is planning to bring one more female Penguin.

(BMC) had brought eight penguins – Donald, Daisy, Popeye, Olive, Flipper (oldest female), Bubble, Mr Molt (youngest male) and Dory- who were brought from Seoul coex aquarium. Dory died a few months later in October 2016 due to bacterial infection for BMC drew a lot of flak. The newborn penguin news is yet to be given to the aquarium authority and will be shared soon said zoo officials.

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