Is there anything more adorable than a baby animal snuggled up against a stuffed animal that shares the same looks? The answer is no.
A video of a one-month-old Humboldt penguin chick has been making the rounds on every social media website, and the images are painfully cute. While the baby penguin appears happy and healthy now, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows for the little one.
Earlier this year, zookeepers at the ZSL London Zoo in London, United Kingdom, were checking the Humboldt penguins’ nestboxes when they noticed something horribly wrong. One of the eggs was broken.
“The chick had a little way to go before she should have hatched, so it was very much touch and go – but we knew we had to get her safely out of the shell and into an incubator to give her a fighting chance,” Suzi Hyde, a penguin keeper at the ZSL London Zoo, said.
Keepers rushed the broken egg—which they suspected a penguin had accidentally stepped on—to their clinic, racing against the clock.
Veterinarians used tweezers to carefully pluck the small pieces of broken shell off of the tiny chick that was still inside of the egg. Once they were able to lift the baby penguin gingerly out of the egg, they placed her inside her own incubation room.
But she wasn’t out of the woods yet.
The chick, nicknamed Rainbow, was given a stuffed penguin, and for the next several weeks she spent time with her cuddly friend, and was hand-fed three times a day by zookeepers.
“We were overjoyed when she started begging for food by opening her mouth wide and making tiny squawks,” Hyde said. “It was the first sign that she might just make it.”
Rainbow still has a few more weeks to go before she joins what the zoo calls their “penguin nursery,” where she’ll learn to swim, but she’s made excellent progress thus far.
Zookeepers predict that once she leaves the incubation room she’ll weigh just around 6.6 pounds. When they rescued her, she weighed 2.5 ounces.