ASAHIKAWA, HOKKAIDO – Japan’s northernmost aquarium will try to breed endangered Humboldt penguins from South America.
Hidenori Takai, 41, who heads the seven-member breeding team at Wakkanai Noshappu Aquarium in Wakkanai, Hokkaido, said the program aims to show children how life begins again.
“We don’t have a luxury facility like aquariums in cities, but I want the breeding to be successful,” Takai said.
In the wild, the birds live in the much warmer climes of Chile and Peru, favoring temperatures of 10 to 20 degrees.
Many rearing facilities around the world are currently trying to breed them. It may not be so easy in Wakkanai, where the average annual temperature is a chilly 6.8 degrees and in January to February it strikes minus 4.7, according to the Wakkanai Local Meteorological Observatory.
The five Humboldt penguins currently housed at the aquarium have a fan heater for when temperatures fall.
The aquarium plans to bring in a breeding-age pair from an aquarium in the southern Hokkaido city of Muroran.
The aquarium has a sad history. A baby penguin, born in February 2004, died a week after hatching because of the cold. It turned out that a window had been left open.
The staff have pledged not to make the same mistake again. They are considering setting up a special room for the penguin couple from Muroran and preparing a better environment for them to breed during the night.
The species usually lays eggs in spring and fall, with a hatching time of about 40 days.