People often think penguins mate for life, just like swans do. But one lady in our colony, known as 161, has a very different opinion! She was hatched in 1988 in Baltimore, and arrived in Arnhem in 1989. She quickly mated with a young penguin male called 162, who also came over from Baltimore. Together with him she laid her first egg (interesting fact: it was the first egg in the new colony!) Unfortunately, the egg was unfertilized, but they did hatch a chick from the next egg. Then tragedy struck: male 162 died at a very young age and 161 was left behind all alone.
Home Sweet Home
Life goes on, and she soon mated with a different male. This male was not born in Baltimore, but was an ordinary Dutch black footed penguin from Amsterdam, better known as 180. She had many eggs and chicks with him. Some of their offspring still live in Arnhem and a few have “flown the coop” to other zoos across Europe.
They were a couple of homebodies. Our penguin couples nest in special nest boxes placed at various locations in the enclosure. The nest boxes are numbered so that we know where the animals hatch and raise their young. 161 and 180 lived in nest box 7 for many years, though they did spend some time in nest box 9.
Recently, male 180 has been seen increasingly on his own and not in the company of his steady companion 161. He did remained near their most recent home. After some detective work, 161 was seen more and more often in a different nest box. After a little more spying on the part of the zookeepers, we discovered that she has made a change in her life. She is now living together with male 160! It is interesting to know that this male also came from Baltimore in 1989. We cannot predict how long the relationship will last, but one thing has become clear. Ms. 161 falls for macho, dominant males, and both males 160 and 162 are in that category!
How do we recognize our penguins?
All of our penguins have a band around one of their flippers, each with a unique number. This makes them easy to recognize. If they happen to lose the band, they also have an implanted chip. And finally, each pattern of spots on their chests is unique, though it is difficult to identify them by that alone. You start seeing spots very quickly…