On 7 October 2014, as we held our breath while the acrylic windows were installed in our new exhibit, a new breath of life joined our northern rockhopper penguin colony. A little rockhopper penguin chick chose this auspicious day to hatch! So, not only were we all in a flurry about the windows, the rockhopper beach was being kept under close surveillance by dedicated staff and volunteers, taking turns to run between the beach and the window installation! The penguin chick was named Clax in honour of the company that manufactured and installed the windows.
Clax’s parents, Roxy and Grommet, had incubated a number of eggs before. Of these, two chicks hatched, but unfortunately none survived. In the wild, these endangered birds lay two eggs four to five days apart with the second egg being the more viable one (the one more likely to survive). Both parents incubate the eggs, but once the chicks hatch, the female leaves the nest and the male remains to raise the chicks. During this time, the female brings food back to the nest for the chicks. It is almost unheard of for both chicks to be reared. After 25 days, the chick will leave the nest and gather with the other chicks in what is known as “crèches”.
It has been over three months now and the road has been rocky. The learning curve has been steep, as we’ve never had a rockhopper chick raised on our beach before. Along the journey, Clax contracted pneumonia. Expert advice from SANCCOB was called on, formulas compared, sleep lost and nails bitten to the quick. Our dedicated penguin keepers and vet had to take over, and hours (day and night) were spent weighing, feeding, medically treating, x-raying, nebulising, observing, planning, redesigning the beach area – all to ensure that Clax had the best chance of survival. She has now been given the “all clear” and has even joined the other rockhopper penguins for their daily swim in the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit.
We welcomed Clax into the Two Oceans Aquarium family on 7 October, but today we would like to introduce her to the world. When you next visit the Aquarium, see if you can spot Clax in the Penguin Exhibit, which is supported by our proud penguin sponsor, Old Mutual Finance.
And to Dr Georgina Cole, Sonia Peck, Shanet Rutgers, Claire Taylor – thank you for your unwavering dedication and commitment.