Bald penguin gets sunburn wetsuit
Friday, 11 June 2010
Ralph, a 10-year-old Humboldt penguin, has a new wetsuit to protect him from getting sunburnt Ralph, a 10-year-old Humboldt penguin, has a new wetsuit to protect him from getting sunburnt.
A bald penguin has been kitted out in a new "comfier and snazzier" wetsuit to help prevent him from getting sunburnt this summer. Ralph, a 10-year-old Humboldt penguin at Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire, was last year given a wetsuit for the first time to protect his exposed pale pink skin. Penguins moult every year, which usually takes between four to six weeks to complete. But Ralph loses all his feathers in the space of a few days, so new ones do not grow through in time, exposing his skin to the sun. The wetsuit protects Ralph's sensitive skin until his new feathers have grown through, which his keepers think will take about a month.
This year keepers at the zoo near Winchester have redesigned Ralph's outfit with sticky fabric strips to enable them to adjust it to make it more comfortable as the new feathers grow. The made-to-measure suit, which was created from neoprene, a rubber used to make wetsuits for humans, also has the penguin's name emblazoned on it.
Dave White, head keeper for the penguins, said: "The stretchy material lets Ralph move around normally. "The added benefit of the Velcro means that as his new feathers grow through we will be able to adjust its size, so it's always comfy for him. "At the moment he is sitting on two eggs with his partner Coral and she seems happy enough with his new look for this year."