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The team at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium are hoping to hear the flapping of tiny wings in a few weeks as two Gentoo penguin eggs are being carefully incubated by first time mum and dad, Kate and William. The pair, who were named after the royal couple, are following their lead but will become parents slightly earlier if all goes well in the coming weeks.
"We were delighted to discover that Kate had delivered an egg last week, followed three days later by another," commented aquarist Lucy Buckley. "The group only took up residence here two years ago and this is their second mating season so we are very lucky and naturally extremely excited. It's now a waiting game to see if the eggs are viable. There is a 35-40 day incubation period before any chicks are born and we'll be keeping a close eye on the couple who are doing a wonderful job keeping the eggs warm and protected."
The Gentoo pair are part of a ten-strong group who reside in a special Antarctic-themed area at the aquarium. They also coupled up during the mating season last April and came back together again this year to successfully mate. Gentoos are famous for their courting rituals, which involves the collecting of pebbles to nest build with the males declaring interest in a female by presenting pebble "love tokens". Kate and William are now taking it in turns to nurture their eggs in the nest they created during their courtship.
Since they moved in the penguins have been extremely popular with guests who can observe the group through giant viewing windows. Soon there could be even more to delight and enthral visitors!
Photo by Matt Haworth 2013