This king penguin chick was having difficulties hatching by itself. A closer check found it to be in a breech position and intervention became necessary. The penguin care team helped by cracking a bit of the eggshell for fresh air to enter and so the chick could chip away at the rest of the shell.
The yolk was still largely intact, indicating that the chick was rather premature. A large, unabsorbed yolk poses a great risk of infection. In addition, it contains large vessels that connect to the chick’s liver and other internal organs. If ruptured, the chick can bleed to death. To complicate matters, the chick began defecating, which further increased the chances of infection. The care team had to speed up the hatching. They continued to remove parts of the shell and membrane, careful not to disturb the yolk..
It took close to a week before the cord connecting the chick to the yolk sac could be severed and the chick ‘officially’ hatched. With patience and determination, the penguin care team had managed to pull off this delicate procedure from start to end and preserve the chick’s life as a result. Also called assisted hatching, it is the closest equivalent to a Caesarean section in the bird world.