aby Humboldt penguins got their first taste of water at ZSL London Zoo this week after they developed their swimming feathers.
The birds hatched in April and May at the north London centre’s penguin beach and spent their first weeks of life tucked away in their cosy nest boxes.
But this week zookeepers stepped in to help the penguins find their flippers in the training pool.
Penguin keeper Jessica Rae said: “Covered in soft, downy feathers, newly hatched chicks aren’t able to swim straightaway.
“But at around six- to 12-weeks-old, these fuzzy feathers are replaced by two layers of stiff, overlapping waterproof black and white feathers — perfect for swimming.
“After tentatively inspecting the training pool, the chicks have started to test out the water this week; some were splashing around in no time, while others took a little longer to take the plunge.”
The penguins have been named Kermit, Ron Burgundy, Stella, Piggy, Ernest, Cricket, Tiki, Ping, Pong, Sean, and Karen
/ ZSL London Zoo
Humboldts are medium-sized penguins and are mostly found in South America, often in Peru and Chile. It is considered a vulnerable species, with 32,000 in the wild.
In Japan, a Humboldt made headlines in 2012 when it escaped from a Sea Life park and survived in Tokyo Bay for 82 days before being recaptured.
The penguins are now old enough to swim/ ZSL London Zoo
The penguins have been named Kermit, Ron Burgundy, Stella, Piggy, Ernest, Cricket, Tiki, Ping, Pong, Sean, and Karen.
Ms Rae added: “Each of the chicks will approach swimming at their own pace, just like humans who learn to crawl and walk at slightly different times.
“Adult Humboldt penguins can reach up to 30 miles per hour in the water. These youngsters have some way to go, but we’re really pleased with the progress they’re making so far.”
Once strong enough, the 11 chicks will move to the conservation zoo’s main penguin pool, where they’ll join the colony of 76 Humboldt penguins.