The Two Oceans Aquarium is happy to announce the introduction of a new northern rockhopper penguin chick to the family. The female chick, Miss Harold Custard, hatched on 23 September 2016 in the Chick Rearing Unit at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) after almost full-term incubation at the Aquarium by the parent birds, Roxy and Grommet.
Miss Harold Custard, as the chick has been named, is the second of Roxy and Grommet’s chicks, with Clax, also female, having hatched at the Aquarium in October 2014.
Roxy and Grommet are fairly inexperienced parents and it was decided to remove the egg for final-stage incubation at the SANCCOB facility, as the risk of unsuccessful rearing by the parent birds was too high.
“We were thrilled that SANCCOB could step in and take on the role of penguin parents. This resulted in the successful rearing of our beautiful little rockhopper chick. SANCCOB not only does phenomenal seabird rehabilitation work, but also contributes to the conservation and husbandry research of many seabird species. A huge big thank you to their very dedicated and committed team,” said Two Oceans Aquarium Curator Maryke Musson.
Miss Custard (now almost four months old) has now joined the rockhopper colony in the Penguin Exhibit, brought to you by Old Mutual Finance, at the Aquarium. The rockhopper penguins in this exhibit were found stranded on southern Cape beaches, rescued and then rehabilitated by SANCCOB before being donated to the Aquarium. They cannot be released due to the risk of introducing possible foreign pathogens into wild populations.
Northern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi) are found in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Their breeding range is restricted to only seven islands within this area. The majority of northern rockhopper penguins can be found on Gough Island and the Tristan da Cunha group of islands.
Northern rockhopper penguins have been classified by the IUCN as an endangered species.
Rockhopper penguins lay two eggs and protect them aggressively. Parents take turns to incubate the eggs, of which only one normally hatches. For up to 26 days after the chick has hatched, the male protects it while the female forages and brings food back for the chick.
Rockhopper penguins are the smallest of the crested penguin species. They live on rocky, inaccessible coasts. Due to their incredible jumping ability, they are recognised as “mountaineers” among penguins.