Calgary Zoo has new king penguin chick, despite egg that cracked too soon

It’s like Humpty Dumpty 2.0, but with a happy ending. Calgary Zoo officials had predicted their king penguin egg would hatch on Aug. 11, but had what they thought was a really bad sign a full week before that.

Calgary Zoo staff went all Humpty Dumpty on the broken shell, but with better results than the fairy tale

Calgary Zoo's king penguin chick broke free of its shell last Wednesday. (Calgary Zoo)

It's like Humpty Dumpty 2.0, but with a happy ending.

Calgary Zoo officials had predicted their king penguin egg would hatch on Aug. 11, but found what they thought was a really bad sign a full week before that.

"Over the long weekend, our animal care staff found pieces of the egg shell on the beach. A badly broken shell so many days before hatching is very bad news," zoo spokesperson Alison Archambault said in a release on Monday.

"The team sprang into action; the veterinary team patched the porous shell with a piece of shell from a Humboldt penguin egg from years before and the egg was placed in an electronic egg incubator."

A king penguin chick makes an appearance last Wednesday, after Calgary Zoo officials put its broken egg back together again. (Calgary Zoo)

The team worked around the clock keeping the egg in prime condition to hatch on its own, and with a little help, the chick made its grand entrance last Wednesday.

"The little one was cleaned, given fluids and antibiotics to help fight infection," Archambault said.

The chick — the zoo doesn't know if it's a male or female, that comes later with a blood test — has an interesting back story.

It was born to 27-year-old king penguin Antoinette and her mate Louis, neither of whom have produced a baby. A chick from the pair adds much-needed genetic diversity to the North American king penguin population. 

The chick is not out of the woods just yet, these next few weeks are critical to its survival. The zoo plans on asking the public for its help naming the chick, once it is more stable. (Calgary Zoo)

A younger, surrogate mother, Diana, was recruited for the two-month incubation based on her success in raising two other penguins — Nero and Cleopatra — and she will foster the chick in these next, critically important weeks.

"Every birth is certainly special, but this guy is extra special and we are extra hopeful he will survive," Archambault told CBC News in an interview.

The zoo will ask the public to help name the chick in weeks ahead, once the chick is more stable and a guaranteed happy ending is in sight.


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