Adorable penguin chicks at London Zoo took to the water in their first swimming lesson this week.

The Humboldt penguin chicks - called McVitie, Swiftie, Gonzo, Pepe, Beaker, Coco, Bob, Thérèse, Randall, Hanbury, and Medici - were hatched at the zoo's Penguin Beach in April.

This week they were finally ready to make a splash in the shallow training pool.

Zookeeper Jessica Ray said: "Penguin chicks spend the first couple of months of their lives covered in very soft, downy feathers.

The chicks were very nervous first of allThe chicks were very nervous first of all (Image: ZSL)

"They look very cute and fluffy, but aren’t able to swim straight away.

"At around six to 12 weeks old, those feathers are replaced by stiff, waterproof black and white feathers, which are perfect for swimming with."

Ms Ray said that the penguins started off nervously, inspecting the pool from the water's edge, walking away and then coming back again.

Some of them are now 'proficient' swimmersSome of them are now 'proficient' swimmers (Image: ZSL)

She added that the chicks got over this quickly, and they now have some very proficient swimmers.

She added: “They have each been approaching the water differently and completely at their own pace. Some are very fast learners; some just like to splash around in the water; some need a bit more time before they learn to swim. It’s just like human toddlers learning to crawl: each chick’s development is different.”  

Humboldt penguins, native to coastal Peru and Chile, are quite the swimmers.

Their paddle-like wings help them speed along at up to 30 miles per hour in their native territories.

However, at this early stage, Jessica said: "These youngsters won’t be reaching 30 miles per hour speeds just yet, but we’re really pleased with the progress they’re making so far!"

The penguins have been fed a diet of fish milkshakes by the keepers at London Zoo to get them ready for swimmingThe penguins have been fed a diet of fish milkshakes by the keepers at London Zoo to get them ready for swimming (Image: ZSL)

After getting the hang of it, these chicks will head to the zoo's main penguin pool to be part of its colony of Humboldt penguins.

This pool is the largest in England with a 500,000 litre capacity - an ample swimming ground for these growing penguins.

The chicks have been provided with weeks of care by London Zoo's Penguin team.

This involved a custom diet of delicious fish milkshakes - containing blended sprats, saline, and vitamins - all to ensure the young Humboldt penguins are in optimal health for their swimming lessons.

Humboldt penguins are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with their numbers falling in the wild.

Visitors wanting to see the penguin chicks learning to swim this summer at London Zoo can book tickets at