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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Penguin chick checks in
Penguin chick
Zoo keepers said the chick is a fighter
A penguin chick which overcame pneumonia, anaemia and a heart murmur has been introduced to the public at Scotland's biggest zoo.

The king chick hatched at Edinburgh Zoo in August but vets discovered it had a combination of potentially fatal conditions.

A plan was then devised by keepers to give the tiny penguin, which weighed just 68 grams when it was born, every chance of survival.

The king chick was fed mashed up fish and rehydration fluids round the clock through a tube inserted into its stomach.

It was also placed in an incubator where it received antibiotic and anti-fungal treatment.

To ensure the chick would not become too dependent on humans, zoo keepers had a life-size painting of a penguin placed at the end of its nest box.

An artificial pouch was also attached to the model penguin so the chick had somewhere dark and cosy to rest after its feeds.

Head keeper Alison Maclean said: "We knew he was strong because he practically demolished the egg when he hatched out, so we decided that, if he was a fighter, then the least we could do was give him a fighting chance."

Penguin chick
The chick has a life-size painting of a penguin in its nest box
The penguin, which weighs 1.5kg, can now eat whole sprats by itself.

Ms Maclean added: "We are all very proud of this achievement and it's been very rewarding seeing the chick pull through, especially when you consider just how many problems it's had along the way."

The penguin does not yet have a name as its gender will not be known until it has blood tests later in the year.

In the meantime it will gradually be introduced to the adult colony.

The chick has also secured a footnote in the zoo's history as its birth marks the first year new additions have been hatched for all four species of penguin - rockhopper, gentoo, macaroni and king - based at the attraction.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's John Knox
"He weighed less than a pear when born"



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