A macaroni penguin chick is being trained to recognize a black rubber glove as its mother. The egg was abandoned after one of the parents became ill; because it takes two to incubate a penguin egg, it was left unattended until keepers at Living Coasts in Torquay, Devon, decided to raise it themselves. So, naturally, they fashioned a mother penguin out of a glove, some red paint and yellow cord.
In order to hand rear the chick, keepers are wearing a home-made penguin glove puppet during its feeds to stop it from becoming used to humans.
The puppet is made from a black rubber industrial glove decorated with red eyes and yellow plumes to mimic an adult macaroni penguin.
Exhibit manager Clare Rugg said: ''This way contact is kept to a minimum - yes, the chick will hear and see keepers, but it will also see the glove which has the shape and colour of an adult penguin.''
Senior keeper Lois Rowell said: ''We don't mind the chick becoming familiar with us so long as it knows it's a macaroni penguin and recognises what one looks like, hence the glove.''
The chick is fed through a syringe by a handler wearing the glove, and a recording of macaroni penguins plays to familiarize the chick with others in its group.