ZSL London Zoo’s famous resident rockhopper penguin is making a move to its sister site, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Ricky will be migrating up the M1 to meet his perfect partner, as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP) and join the established group there ahead of breeding season.
Ricky has lived at ZSL London Zoo since February 2011 and rose to fame at ZSL London Zoo for his big personality.
The current waddle of rockhopper penguins at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, are situated at the top of the Chiltern Hills, overlooking an incredible view of Dunstable. Ricky will be joining four females and three male rockhopper penguins, who live just a pebble’s throw away from their neighbours, a colony of African black-footed penguins.
The rockhopper penguin is one of the smallest penguin species but they have huge personalities – and Ricky is no exception. They have a distinguishing crest of spiky yellow and black feathers on top of their heads.
Zookeeper Zuzana Matyasova, said: “Ricky is returning to his roots at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, having hatched there in 2008.
“He can be a bit of a diva, and loves attention from zookeepers and visitors. We are sure Ricky will settle in quickly to his home in the Chiltern Hills and find his special rock hopping mate. He’s a strong character and he’ll be sure to let the others know he’s arrived!
“These particular birds shake their yellow eyebrows to attract a mate. During breeding season the penguins often return to the same nests, with the same partners raising their chicks as a team. Both rockhoppers will keep the egg warm, taking it in turns to go off and feed. The pair are very protective of their chicks, scaring anything away that may come too close to their brood.”
The rockhopper penguin was listed as endangered in 2008 by the IUCN. The rapid population decrease over the last three generations (30 years) throughout its range are down to changes in sea temperature, competition and incidental capture in fisheries and introduced predators, although the precise reasons for the decline are poorly known.