Gentoo penguin first of its kind born in Ireland

The country’s first gentoo penguin chick has been delivered to his doting parents — making the tiny bundle of fluff the first of its kind to be hatched in Ireland.

The staff in Dingle Oceanworld were all a flutter when the penguin, weighing less than a quarter of a pound, arrived this week at the €1m Antarctic exhibition which mimics the icy conditions at the South Pole.

Penguin couples had paired off and laid eggs every breeding season since 2012 without success, but a chick finally poked his head through the very last egg to hatch out last Wednesday, causing the rest of his colony to scream in excitement.

Senior penguin keeper Louise Overy revealed how its seven-year-old father, Fletcher, sat firmly over the egg as the chick’s four-year-old mother, Sneachta, ran around in circles during much of the 12-hour hatching.

Ms Overy said: “We’re absolutely delighted. This year it actually happened. He is the first gentoo penguin to be born in Ireland so we have the oldest in Hef, who is about 25 years old, and the youngest gentoo penguin in Ireland.

“It was the very last egg left to hatch. We had all but given up hope. It hatched on the 37th day like it is meant to.

“It was the dad on the egg when it happened. Fletcher was as cool as a cucumber. The mother wanted to get on but he would not let her.

“She was running around in circles looking at him and going full speed into the pool. She was very excited. He eventually let her on [the egg].”

The chick weighed in at 116g and measured 12.5cm in height. However, its sex cannot be determined until it grows adult feathers.

!Ms Overy said the chick has almost doubled in weight in his first week, with his dutiful parents taking turns to feed him with their own regurgitated meals.

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