Thursday, June 5, 2014

Marwell Wildlife's star attraction Ralph the Penguin gets a new wetsuit

Basingstoke Gazette: Ralph in the penguin enclosure  
 Ralph in the penguin enclosure 
INTERNATIONAL star Ralph the penguin has been given a trendy new wetsuit for a second consecutive year thanks to O'Neill.

The 15-year-old Humboldt penguin, who lives at Marwell Zoo near Winchester, is now wearing a new and improved custom made wetsuit after his previous suit had seen better days. During his annual moult, Ralph loses his feathers quicker than other penguins, leaving him exposed to the elements.

For the past six years, Ralph has had a wetsuit to protect him from the sun and keep him warm on colder evenings. However, with all Ralph’s swimming and grooming, he needed a new one and O’Neill were keen to come to Ralph’s rescue once again.

Anna Ing, team Leader of birds at Marwell said: “Ralph’s wetsuits see a lot of activity with him constantly on the go, swimming, climbing rocks and preening. He certainly looks the part with his custom made O’Neill wetsuit.  “He has been preening his wetsuit just as he would if he had feathers and his partner Coral has joined in too!”

Aside from wearing a wetsuit, Ralph swims, eats and plays just like the other penguins. The rubber in the wetsuit, which is the same as a human’s wetsuit, is extremely flexible and doesn’t restrict his movement.

Anna added: “Ralph is a very healthy bird, but for some reason his feathers drop out a long time before his new feathers grow back. Every year is different for Ralph and we can never be sure when he will lose his feathers but as soon as he starts looking bald we put the wetsuit on him. “This will be the sixth year Ralph has had a wetsuit so he is used to wearing them and acts just like any other penguin in the colony.”


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