Devon

Penguins switch Torquay zoo breeding site after 'squabble'

Penguins at Living Coasts. Pic: Living Coasts Image copyright Living Coasts
Image caption The yellow-browed macaroni penguins have set up home among African penguins

A pair of penguins in a south Devon zoo have set up a nest with penguins of a different breed after the male had a squabble.

Macaroni penguins Juan and Pebbles have rejected the company of the other macaronis on the birds' preferred rocky beach at Living Coasts.

They were now breeding down a burrow with African penguins, staff said.

Despite the "unusual behaviour", the pair stood a "good chance of breeding successfully", they added.

Torquay's zoo is home to a total of about 80 birds of the two species, including 17-year-old Juan and seven-year-old Pebbles.

African penguins nest in burrows dug into sand while sub-Antarctic macaroni penguins usually preferred to lay their eggs on piles of pebbles in the open, the zoo said.

But Juan left the macaronis and started living in the burrow "after a squabble over a nest site with another male" last year, keeper Cara Burton said.

She said: "He spent a lot of time on the African penguin beach during the summer.

"When winter arrived, he moved into a burrow - probably for shelter - and has stayed put ever since.

"Pebbles showed interest in him last year but nothing happened. This year she tried to tempt him back to macaroni beach a few times but had no luck, so she joined him. This is unusual behaviour.

"However, I think they stand a good chance of breeding successfully.

"Macaroni penguins always kick the first egg out of the nest and then lay a second. They have done this. Everything seems to be going smoothly."

Image copyright Living Coasts
Image caption Pebbles tried to tempt Juan back to the macaronis' beach but had no luck, so she joined him with the African penguins, staff said

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