The first Humboldt Penguin chick in the country was hatched at the Mumbai Zoo, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Thursday. The Humboldt Penguin chick was born on Independence Day at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan Zoo, reported IANS. The species is native to Peru and Chile in South America.

“The Humboldt Penguin chick hatched at 8.02 pm on August 15,” said the zoo director in-charge Sanjay Tripathi. “It appeared to be active and the mother Flipper was trying to feed it too.”

In July 2016, eight Humboldt Penguins were imported from Coex Aquarium in South Korea’s Seoul. They were later named Dory, Donald, Daisy, Popeye, Olive, Bubble, Flipper, and Mr Molt. After Dory’s death in October last year, the zoo has four female penguins and three male penguins, and six of them have already paired up. Flipper, the oldest female penguin in the zoo, mated with Mr Molt in captivity to produce an egg in July. The young chick will be added to the zoo’s penguin colony.

The penguins stay in a special chilled enclosure, with the nest also kept there. Spread over 1,700 square feet, an average temperature of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is maintained in the enclosure. Zoo officials constantly monitor the quality of water inside and the birds are fed on fish, including Indian mackerels.

The Rs 64-crore project – spearheaded by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray – had come under massive criticism after Dory’s death due infection. Zoo authorities later claimed that the entire exhibit area had been disinfected and that they repeatedly conducted tests to check for and prevent infections. But animal rights activists in Mumbai later filed a police complaint, alleging negligence by zoo authorities and demanding that the death of the 18-month-old penguin be investigated.

Earlier, animal welfare activists had also strongly opposed the zoo’s move to procure the penguins, expressing their doubts about whether its authorities had the expertise to care for them or provide them with the required living conditions.