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Penguin chick at London zoo
ZSLLondon Zoo has hand-reared five penguin chicks who've been give jubilee-themed names

London Zoo has given five baby penguins Jubilee-themed names

The move is in honour of what the zoo is calling the Queen’s ‘zoobilee’

Written by
Annette Richardson

In case you were thinking: Another day, another Jubilee story, here’s one that you really might want to take a look at, if there’s any tenderness left in your hard heart.

To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, London Zoo has just given five penguin chicks Jubilee-themed names in her honour. Now, before you get all cynical about everyone piling in for a bit of the anniversary action, in the zoo’s defence, Her Majesty is a patron of theirs, and as a result, it’s running a huge ‘Zoobilee Festival’, which will take place between Saturday May 28 and Sunday June 5. In addition, it is undeniable that everyone loves penguins and, frankly, if there’s a story about them, we want to hear it. I mean, if ever there was a type of feathered friend that should have regal associations it’s a penguin. There’s King and Emperor varieties, for goodness’ sake.

The five chicks were born at the end of April and had to be hand-reared as their parents were unable to look after them (*gulp*). In lieu of the cuddles of mum and dad the little hatchlings had to make do with snuggling up to a soft toy penguin, plus the dedicated ministrations of the zookeeping team.

ZSL London Zoo penguin keeper Suzi Hyde said: ‘During breeding season, we check the nests on Penguin Beach every day, keeping an eye out for any chicks who might not be feeding enough or whose parents are struggling to care for their brood. These five chicks all had first-time parents who needed a little bit of extra support, so we were happy to swoop in – with a little help from a few soft toy penguins, donated by the zoo shop, for them to snuggle up to.’

[Sniffles] I’m fine, it’s just hayfever.

For the Platinum Jubilee, the five chicks have all been named after important moments in the Queen’s 70-year reign: Hillary, after Sir Edmund Hillary scaling Everest in 1953; Apollo, to mark the moon landing in 1969; Bobby, in honour of England captain Bobby Moore leading a World Cup win in 1966; Bernie, after Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the internet in 1989; and Mac, after Ellen MacArthur, who sailed around the world non-stop to set a new world record in 2005, although, in a lovely gender-fluid moment, as yet the birds have not been sexed as they are too young.

The baby birds are a breed of penguin called Humboldt, which don’t hail from Antarctica but from the South American coast, including Peru. Therefore, they are actually neighbours of Paddington Bear. They’ll eventually grow to be medium-sized with the help of the special slushy blend of fish and vitamins they are being fed. And here’s another reason to celebrate these special chicks – this breed of penguin is at risk of becoming extinct due to overfishing and the ubiquitous climate change, so we say ‘hurray’ for London Zoo’s famous five. 

Not reached peak cuteness overload? You can watch the little chickadees here.

London Zoo, The Regent's Park, NW1 4RY.

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