Banham Zoo wants you to name one of their penguins

The African Penguin that has been hand reared at Banham Zoo by keppers Linda Drakes (left) and Trace

The African Penguin that has been hand reared at Banham Zoo by keppers Linda Drakes (left) and Tracey Moore Head Keeper. Picture: Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk zoo is inviting Mercury readers to name a female African penguin which was hand reared by zoo keepers after being abandoned by its parents without warning.

The three-and-a-half month old penguin was in one of two eggs in a nest being monitored by keepers at Banham Zoo, when the parents suddenly left in February just as the eggs were about to hatch, leaving them in potential danger.

Fortunately, the keepers, including Linda Drakes and Jade Doggett, were able to move the eggs to an incubator before they became too cold and although one of the eggs proved to be infertile, the other produced a tiny chick within days, weighing only 66.1 grams.

Since then, the keepers have looked after the black footed penguin, feeding her a fish soup made from sprats and she now weighs 2.2kg and is able to swim.

She has been integrated slowly back into the zoo enclosure in the hope she will form a pair with another penguin.

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Tracey Moore, head keeper at the zoo, said: 'It is very rare to have to hand rear, it is better to parent rear, but they are becoming more endangered so each one's more precious.'

A DNA sample from the chick was sent to a laboratory to determine its sex as it is difficult for the keepers to determine the individual sexes of penguins as they look the same.

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Tracey added: 'It is great to see how she is progressing.'

The zoo has 23 penguins in the enclosure, all of which are microchipped and some of them are moved between zoos.

The keepers' next challenge is to find a name for the penguin and they are inviting people to send in their suggestions on the zoo's Facebook page or tweeting them to @banhamzoo.

Alternatively post them to Name the Penguin, Banham Zoo, The Grove, Banham, Norfolk, NR16 2HE.

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