Blonde Ambition

A rare penguin chick which will grow up to sport a head of blonde feathers has been named after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s newborn son, Wilfred.

Zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo were delighted when the tiny rockhopper penguin chick hatched this weekend following successful matchmaking efforts as part of an international conservation breeding programme for the species, which is classified as Endangered by the IUCN. 

The sex of the chick remains unknown, as penguins can only be differentiated with a DNA test.

Jamie Graham, team leader of birds at the UK’s largest zoo said: “As a rule, I don’t name the birds at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, but the arrival of our yellow-haired chick so close to the birth of the son of the UK’s famous blonde Prime Minister was too much of a coincidence to pass up.

“Rockhoppers are famous for their crest of bright yellow head feathers and little Wilfred will see their blonde crown appear after their first moult. Unlike other birds, penguins shed their feathers all at once, with infants losing their downy, fluffy coat in favour of slick black and white waterproof feathers. 

“The rockhopper penguins are part of an internationally-coordinated breeding programme to ensure that a safe and healthy back up population of these animals are protected for generations to come – an important project we’re proud to be part of.” 

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is currently closed to the public, because of COVID-19, but vital work continues behind its closed doors. Without income from zoo visitors, the charity behind the zoo needs help to cover costs – please help ZSL weather the storm:

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