Flash the baby penguin gets its water wings at Birmingham Sea Life Centre - with pictures

By Rebecca Sayce | Birmingham | Attractions | Published:

It all went swimmingly for Flash the rare Gentoo penguin chick at its first swimming lesson, diving in at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham this week.

Baby penguin at the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Flash took swimming lessons in a special paddling pool behind the scenes, with the help of the penguin care team.

It’s designed to get the chick used to the icy water before going in at the deep end in the larger pool in the penguins’ ice adventure habitat.

Staff don’t yet know if Flash is a boy or a girl, but will learn the gender soon once the chick is a few months old.

Julie Travers, penguin keeper at the aquarium, said: “Penguin chicks can be a little reluctant at first to go in the water, so we help them along with a few swimming lessons. It’s an important moment for Flash.

"We’re on hand, along with penguin parents and other members of the colony, to encourage them into the paddling pool. It’s a useful stepping stone to the larger pool.

Baby penguin at the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham

"Flash is doing well and it won’t be long before he or she lives up to their speedy name and is whizzing through the water."


Staff named the penguin Flash because of its quick arrival in May, just 12 hours after it first began pecking its way out of the shell. This ‘pipping’ process can normally take up to three days.

The Birmingham penguin colony travelled thousands of miles by plane to arrive in the city in 2014. Three years later staff celebrated the first success for the breeding programme, vital due to the rapid decline in Gentoo numbers.

Baby penguin swimming lessons at The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham

Flash is the second breeding season success for Birmingham. The three-month-old is the offspring of one-year-old Prince and his older girlfriend Hyacinth, who is four.


Gentoo penguins are difficult to breed because of their sensitive nature and Flash is believed to be the first one to be born in the UK this year.

Until recently the Gentoo species was officially listed as ‘near threatened’, with the species declining rapidly in recent years, due to damage to their habitats from tourism pollution and the illegal collection of their eggs.

Flash the penguin chick a few days old at the National Sea Life Centre

For further information on National Sea Life Centre Birmingham and to book tickets, click here.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me:


Top Stories


More from the Express & Star

UK & International News