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Lonesome penguin cheered up by his new friend... a stuffed toy

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:17 PM on 08th November 2008

A baby penguin which had to be separated from its family after a greedy sibling continually ate all its food has found companionship - with this stuffed toy.

The penguin - called Pingu - began to lose weight and appeared weak after its bigger relative regularly helped himself to all the fish on offer.

Concerned keepers were forced to remove Pingu from the enclosure, but at just three-weeks-old the penguin was in desperate need of company.

Staff bought a £3.99 toy penguin from the zoo shop which acts as a surrogate sibling to the chuffed chick - who cuddles up to its new friend all day.

Pingu - an African penguin whose sex has yet to be determined - was born with its sibling at the Living Coasts attraction in Torquay, Devon.

Senior head keeper Tony Durkin said: 'At first it seemed everything was going well but then we noticed one sibling was growing more quickly than the other.

'You do get size differences in the wild but it only becomes a problem if the difference gets too great.

'We prefer not to interfere, as it's better for parent birds to rear their young naturally. But as the size difference increased, so did the problem.

'The smaller chick was getting some food, just not enough. When it fell in the pool we decided to give it a helping hand.

'The cuddly penguin toy is something for the chick to cosy up to and be comforted by - a surrogate family for the time being.' Pingu is living in a snug den made out of foam matting and towels with a shelter to imitate a normal burrow.

For the first two or three days the chick was fed warm, liquidised fish from a syringe before being gradually weaned onto chunks of sprat.

Pingu now takes small whole sprats and is being fed six times a day by a team of five foster mothers.

African penguins chicks are about the same size as those of a domestic chicken . They grow quickly and at eight weeks are close to full size.

Soon after they lose their downy feathers and grow their juvenile plumage, which they keep until they are about one-and-a-half years old.

Keeper Lois Rowell added: 'The chick is quiet but quite inquisitive. It enjoys a shallow warm bath and being preened by us when its feathers need a clean up.' The youngster will return to the colony when it is strong enough to compete with the others for food.

As well as a stuffed penguin Pingu also cuddles up to a toy puffin.


Premium Member
4,479 Posts
They should name him Linux. :D
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