Endangered Rockhopper penguin successfully hatched and reared

Rockhopper penguin chick successfully raised

On Friday, 13 January 2017, a juvenile Northern Rockhopper penguin named Miss Harold Custard was reunited with her colony at the Two Oceans Aquarium. The egg was laid by Roxy and Grommet at the Aquarium, but brought to SANCCOB to be raised since they are still inexperienced penguin parents.

The chick hatched on 23 September 2016 in SANCCOB’s specialised Chick Rearing Unit. “We initially thought it was a male,” explains Romy Klusener, SANCCOB’s Chick Rearing Unit Supervisor, “and the name Harold seemed appropriate.” As a chick, the tip of her beak was bright yellow, giving the impression it had been dipped in custard, and the word “custard” was added to her name. After blood tests revealed the bird was, in fact, a female Rockhopper, she became ‘Miss Harold Custard’.

After nearly four months of care, Miss Custard was reunited with her parents at the Penguin Exhibit at the Two Ocean’s Aquarium. “We were thrilled that SANCCOB could step in and take on the role of penguin parents. This resulted in the successful rearing of our beautiful little Rockhopper chick,” said Maryke Musson, Curator of the Two Oceans Aquarium.

The Penguin Exhibit at the Aquarium is home to 10 endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins found stranded on southern Cape beaches, rescued and rehabilitated by SANCCOB before taking up permanent residence at the Aquarium. These penguins are unable to be released back into the wild owing to the fact that they could potentially carry diseases endemic to South African seabirds, back to their native colonies.

Northern Rockhopper (Eudyptes moseleyi) penguins are are the smallest of the crested penguin species. They live on rocky, inaccessible coasts in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The majority of these penguins can be found on Gough Island and the Tristan da Cunha group of islands. The species is classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and it is estimated that less than 240 000 breeding pairs remain in the wild today.

For further information about the Penguin Exhibit and the Aquarium’s resident penguin colonies (Rockhopper and African), please visit aquarium.co.za