Singapore, 05 October 2011 – Less than a year after moving to a new home, a pair of African penguins are proud parents of a feisty penguin chick. The couple, who were originally residents of Singapore Zoo, started breeding and nesting soon after relocating to their new home in Jurong Bird Park.

The cuddly chick was hatched on 22 August 2011 and at just 10 days old, weighed 425g; a desirable weight for an African penguin hatchling. Unlike adult penguins, a hatchling usually dons a grey juvenile plumage after its first moult of feathers which occurs between its second and third month of life.

“We are delighted to welcome Bird Park’s first African penguin chick. Birds normally breed when they feel safe, happy and secure in their environment. Although the penguins have been here for only 9 months, they have already acclimatised to their new environment under the watchful eye of the keepers. The hatchling is the first for the five-year-old female penguin, Mate,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park. “While Mate and the male African penguin, Captain, have very good chemistry, they required some help from our keepers when it came to nesting at their new home at the Park.”

As part of the husbandry procedures in the Bird Park, avian keepers provided sand and hay as nesting materials to encourage them to breed. Diet also plays an important part, and all the above, coupled with tender loving care from the keepers, were key in making the African penguins feel comfortable and secure to engage in breeding.

Previously categorised as ‘Vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List for bird species, African penguins are now recognised as an endangered species. The decline in the population is attributed to lack of food due to over-fishing in surrounding waters. Other reasons include hunting by predators and egg-collecting.

Commonly found in the offshore islands along the coast of South Africa and Namibia, these penguins are also widely known as Jackass penguins because of their donkey-like bray. Easily seen with black stripes and spots similar to the Humboldt penguin, African Penguins are the only penguin species which are adaptable to temperate climates.

The Penguin Coast, consisting of an outdoor and an indoor exhibit spanning 1,600 metres, is home to six penguin species at the bird park. The indoor climate-controlled den features the Humboldts, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Fairy and King Penguins, while African Penguins bask in the outdoor enclosure.

Mate and Captain
Mate and Captain



SINGAPORE, 29 September 2010 – Experience an eco-haven with the feel of an African coastline right here in Singapore when the Jurong Bird Park launches its coastal wildlife habitat, Penguin Coast, this December.

For the first time at the Jurong Bird Park, there will be an outdoor enclosure featuring African Penguins. Also known as Jackass Penguins for their distinctive loud braying calls, they are one of the few species of penguins that live in tropical conditions and are commonly found on the South Western coast of South Africa.

African penguins grow to 68–70 cm (26.7–27.5 in) tall and weigh between 2 to 5 kg. They have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints. They also spot pink glands above their eyes that get more pink in colour the hotter the penguin gets.

Visitors can view simulated waves created by artificial wave making machines crashing against a shoreline where marsh birds native to South Africa, like the Cape Shelduck or South African Shelduck, large goose-like birds with wings strikingly marked with black, white and green, paddle in the waters.

The Penguin Coast will also be home to gulls. These are medium to large coastal birds, usually grey or white, with black markings on the head or wings and longish bills with webbed feet. Gulls are famous for their aerial acrobatic maneuvers in the wild when hunting for food in the open sea.

Take a quick march down to the Jurong Bird Park this December holidays for a tropical penguin encounter!

African Penguin - Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen