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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Explained: How are Humboldts different from other penguins?

Two chicks were born this year in Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo. Humboldt penguins are endemic to the Pacific coasts of Chile and Peru.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: September 21, 2021 1:48:47 pm
Home to seven adult Humbold penguins, Mumbai’s Byculla zoo has welcomed two penguin chicks this year. (Express Photo: Pradip Das)

Last week, Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo announced the addition of two new Humboldt penguin chicks this year. Oreo was born to Flipper and Mr Molt on May 1; and an as-yet-unnamed chick to Daisy and Donald on August 19. The two join seven adult Humboldt penguins at Byculla Zoo — Popeye, Flipper, Bubble, and the new parents.

Humboldt penguins are a medium-sized species among at least 17 species. The exact number of distinct species is debated, but it is generally agreed that there are between 17 and 19 species, according to the Smithsonian Institute. The largest, the Emperor penguin, stands at over 4 ft tall while the Little penguin has a maximum height of 1 ft. Humboldt penguins have an average height of just over 2 ft.

Penguin species

Penguins are divided into six genera (see table). The Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) belongs to a genus that is commonly known as the ‘banded’ group. Humboldt penguins are endemic to the Pacific coasts of Chile and Peru. They are so named because their habitat is located near the Humboldt Current, a large oceanic upwelling characterised by cold waters.

Humboldt penguins have large, bare skin patches around their eyes, an adaptation to help keep them cool, according to the Smithsonian Institute. Their breeding season in the wild is either March-April or September-October depending on the location of the colony. “The Humboldt is one of the most popular zoo penguins due to its ability to withstand warmer climates,” the Institute says on its website.

At Byculla, the seven adult penguins were brought to the zoo in 2016 from Seoul. The unnamed chick is being looked after by its parents Flipper, the oldest female penguin at the zoo, and Mr Molt, the youngest among the males, through a process called ‘brooding’. Its sex is yet to be known.

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