A penguin parade with a difference took place today as 29 Gentoo penguins moved to a new home within Edinburgh Zoo.
Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘p-p-pick up a penguin’, the birds were carried by Edinburgh Zoo’s experienced team of animal keepers from the normal penguin enclosure to their new home for the next few months.
One bird per keeper, the unusual 15 minute parade finished at Barbary Rock, the old rock hyrax enclosure, which has been converted into a temporary home for the Zoo’s remaining Gentoos.
Edinburgh Zoo’s penguin enclosure is currently the focus of an intensive maintenance and upgrade programme which will take a couple of months.
The outdoor penguin pool has been an iconic aspect of the Zoo for many years, and to ensure it continues to be, essential maintenance work is being carried out.
The necessary work means that Edinburgh Zoo’s penguin colony of Kings, Rockhoppers and Gentoos have been split up for a short time. A third of the penguin colony remains at Edinburgh and the remaining birds have been temporarily rehomed in other experienced Zoos.
Colin Oulton, Bird Team Leader at Edinburgh Zoo, said ahead of the event: “Although it will be an extraordinary sight to see 29 keepers walking through Edinburgh Zoo each with a Gentoo penguin tucked under their arm, it’s actually the quickest and kindest way to carry out the move.
“Transferring the penguins in this way means the birds will be handled only once and that the move will be carried out in a matter of minutes.
“And, as Gentoo breeding season is almost here, pebbles and nest rings will be added to the new enclosure next week after the penguins have had time to settle in. We don’t know if they will breed, but many of the birds are starting to show typical breeding behaviour, and we have purposely kept established pairs of penguins together.”