ZOOKEEPERS have spent the last few months hand rearing two baby penguins.

The chicks were born to Sid and Dotty and OJ and Diego earlier this year at Colchester Zoo.

While the penguins were caring for the chicks themselves keepers noticed that they were starting to lose weight.

After monitoring and weighing the chicks daily with no improvement, the difficult decision was made to hand rear them.

A spokesman for the zoo said: "Since keepers began caring for them, the chicks have been gaining weight and are already growing their pin feathers; this is a clear sign of transition from fluffy chick to water-proofed sub-adult.

"Humboldt penguins such as ours have a light grey coat until their adult feathers come through and this is when they begin to develop individual spot patterns on their bellies.

"At the moment our two youngsters are not on show to the public however once they have their adult feathers they will gradually be introduced to one of our two colonies."

Humboldt penguins are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List so the chicks are really important for their species.