An aquarium in the US has introduced an unusual toy to its penguin enclosure – a tablet computer, and it’s proving an unusual hit with the winged mammals.

In the video above, young penguins Newsom and Jeremy are seen using their beaks to tap the screen to play the Game for Cats app. In the game, a mouse races around the screen and the cat (or in this case the penguin) has to tap it to ‘catch’ it.

Sara Mandel, an aviculturist at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach California, had the idea of giving iPads to the penguins one spring to help keep them occupied when older penguins were mating.

The team chose Game for Cats because – like cats - penguins are very curious. With the game running, they put a first-generation iPad in with Jeremy and Newsom which aroused their curiosity.
 “Jeremy was the first to try it out but Newsom was the one that really got into it. Stalking the virtual mouse intently, he tried to pick it up repeatedly with his beak. Newsom especially seemed to like the squeak that the mouse made when he put his beak on the virtual critter. The mouse was self-reinforcing for this penguin. Newsom set the penguin high score of 1,600 for the game,” said volunteer Hugh, writing on the aquarium's blog.

Video credit: Caters
Photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific