Thursday, July 3, 2014

Penguin Babies Earn Their Feathers At Zoo

These feathered friends are the latest additions to the penguin enclosure at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo.

The magnificent seven Rockhopper penguins were born in mid April and went public only this week in their enclosure in the Austrian capital.

Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter said: "The penguins now weigh around 2 kilos. They have their first moulting behind them. Their waterproof feathers are almost completely covering their bodies and they already have their white chests on show. Soon they will be learning to swim."

Penguin’s black and white plumage serves as camouflage while swimming. The black plumage on their back is hard to see from above, while the white plumage on their front looks like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water when seen from below.

The Rockhopper penguins are endangered in the wild with only around 265,000 pairs thought to exist in the wild. Over the last 37 years the population is thought to have declined by 60 percent mainly due to overfishing of the seas as well as pollution and climate change.

Most penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere with the Galapagos Penguin being the only penguin species that ventures north of the equator in the wild.

Penguins eat a range of fish and other sea life that they catch underwater and in the zoo as in the wild, spend around half their time in water and the other half on land.

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