Easter eggs for penguins at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo’s penguins have started to lay their first eggs this year.

Penguins have started to lay their eggs at Edinburgh Zoo. Pic: Edinburgh Zoo
Penguins have started to lay their eggs at Edinburgh Zoo. Pic: Edinburgh Zoo

The gentoo penguins have already laid three eggs, while the rockhoppers are ahead with eight.

The breeding season started last month, with the placement of pebbles and nesting rings in Penguins Rock.

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The gentoo penguins then made annual dash to get the best nesting rings, and the penguins started to woo their chosen mate with the prettiest pebbles.

Penguins at Edinburgh Zoo. Pic: Edinburgh Zoo

Always packed with plenty of excitement, some of the penguins remain with the same partners each year, whereas others prefer a change.

The penguins’ eggs incubation period is normally lasts between 33 and 35 days, so the first penguin chicks will likely arrive in May.

Penguin cam has been moved over to the nesting site, allowing fans to watch the nesting process.

This is the first year that the majority of the rockhoppers are ready to breed, as many of the younger birds have recently reached maturity and have chosen to pair up for the first time.

The birds are laying far more eggs than usual and the keepers are especially excited because it has been six years since a rockhopper chick was born at Edinburgh Zoo.

Penguin Keeper Dawn Nicol said: “The official start of the penguin breeding season is the busiest time of the year for bird keepers and it is always very exciting.

“We are really optimistic that we may get a rockhopper chick this year as they have never laid quite so many eggs before.

“Affectionately known as the rockies, we may get up to 12 eggs this year, whilst our gentoos could lay up to 40 eggs as there are many more breeding pairs.”

The penguin parents share the incubation and parenting duties equally until the chicks reach three to four months of age when they are old enough to leave the nest and join a large crèche.

Penguins have been an integral part of Edinburgh Zoo for over 100 years and the Zoo has the largest outdoor penguin pool in the world.

They were one of the first species that arrived and the Zoo and the Society became the first outside the southern hemisphere to breed king penguins.

The world famous daily Penguin Parade began in 1951 when a keeper accidentally left the gate open and the penguins went for a short walk and then returned to their enclosure.