Snow Chick: A Penguin's Tale

Synopsis: A chronicle of the birth and development of one penguin chick, born late and smaller than any of its fellow toddlers.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): John Downer
Actors: Kate Winslet
58 min


Midwinter in Antarctica

and one of nature's most extraordinary

stories is about to begin...

Through two months of biting winds,

blizzards and unimaginable cold

these male emperor penguins

have each nurtured a single precious egg.

One by one they welcome

their tiny chicks into the world.

But not all eggs will hatch

and one father is still waiting.

A neighbour shows off

his own new youngster.

His calls will encourage

the chick to emerge.

Finally, the youngest member

of the colony is born.

But growing up in the world's most

extreme nursery will be a huge challenge

for in just 6 months he must have

learnt enough to fend for himself

in the great Antarctic Ocean.

This is the dramatised story

of one extraordinary little bird.

Far from their chicks

the mothers have spent the last two months

catching fish and fattening up

while the fathers were left alone

to hatch their eggs.

Now the race is on to get back

and feed their young.

Among the excited crowd

is Snow Chick's mother.

She's got a belly full of fish

for her newborn

but between them is a gruelling

100km trek across the frozen sea.

Waddling at less than 3km an hour,

it will take many days to get home.

Instinct drives them on...

their babies' lives depend

on them arriving in time.

Back at the colony,

the father is getting to know his chick.

He gives him some high-calorie baby milk

produced from a gland in his throat.

But these supplies

will only last a few days.

It's just as well his mother

is on her way.

Following her maternal instinct

she and all the other females are making

steady progress on their journey home.

But, in places, the ice is wafer thin!

Below, a predator tracks their every move.

A leopard seal...

the penguins' greatest enemy.

The chick's mother senses danger.

She was right to be cautious.

Broken ice is a death trap.

For the rest, their chick

is their only concern.

But the seal needs just one victim...

A near miss, and she still has

60 treacherous kilometres ahead of her!

While the chick waits for her return,

outside temperatures are at minus 30.

But the pouch covers him like a tea cosy

and keeps him at a comfy plus 37 degrees.

For a new father, walking with a chick

on your feet is a tricky balancing act.

He'll get the hang of it soon!

The mothers are also struggling

with the icy conditions

and they are crossing some of

the toughest terrain on earth.

Their sharp claws grip the ice,

while scales on their feet act like treads.

But where the snow melts and re-thaws

it creates slippery conditions

that even a penguin finds challenging...!

Back at the colony,

it's been a week since the chick was born.

At these temperatures,

survival depends on getting enough to eat.

His father tries,

but there's nothing left to give.

The mothers battle on.

Sadly, some years they

simply don't make it in time.

The chick is getting weaker by the hour.

Then, at last, some weary figures appear.

Utterly exhausted by the walk

the mother still has one final challenge

before she can meet her chick...

Finding him!

There are over three thousand fathers

with chicks here

and, even to penguins,

they all look the same.

For the chick, time is running out.

But the penguins have a solution.

The fathers get in line

and dad and his chick join them.

They form an identity parade!

All she has to do is simply

work her way along the line.

Sounds simple enough

but among all the penguin lookalikes,

her partner is still tricky to recognise!

So every so often she stops and calls!

Her cry is unique and the father responds

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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"Snow Chick: A Penguin's Tale" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 4 Jun 2020. <>.

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