PAULTONS Park has welcomed three new penguin chicks to its breeding colony.

While the doors may currently be closed and the rides at a standstill at Hampshire’s Paultons Park, there is still plenty to celebrate with the successful arrival of not one – but three – new Humboldt penguin chicks to the park’s breeding colony.

Betty and Percy, who are 16 and 8 years old, hatched their new chick in April, making them Paultons Park parents for the second time around, with their previous chick Pumpkin, being hatched four years ago and still living in the park’s penguin colony.

While just a few weeks later, another penguin pair, Perry and Darcey, hatched another two chicks, showing the breeding programme is going from strength to strength.

James Mancey, Operations Director at Paultons Park, said: “We are all delighted to welcome the three new chicks to our Humboldt penguin colony. Our penguins are one of the most popular livestock attractions with guests to Paultons Park, so I’m sure that a visit to see the new chicks will be the highlight of many people’s day when we are able to re-open!”

As an officially designated ‘vulnerable’ species, there are estimated to be only in the region of 12,000 Humboldt penguins left in the wild, due to things like over-fishing of prey and entanglement in fishing nets, which means captive breeding programmes such as the one in Paultons Park are key for the conservation of the species.

Paultons Park is currently working with its nominated charity, Southampton Hospitals Charity, to name the new penguin chicks and a shortlist of potential names will be created by the children under the care of Southampton Children’s Hospital, with the winners chosen by the Paultons Park communities on the Park’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.

Jeneen Thomsen, Interim Joint Director of Southampton Hospitals Charity said: “The children at Southampton Children’s Hospital are so excited to have been asked to help name the new penguin chicks at Paultons Park. We have around 200 in-patients currently, so we’re sure that they’ll have great fun coming up with some brilliant names.”

Paultons Park is currently preparing for re-opening in line with government policy, with updates on opening dates, health and safety measures and operational changes being announced in due course.