Dippy, a 20-year-old penguin suffering from arthritis, who is the oldest in the 40-strong colony located in the closing Seaview Wildlife Encounter on the Isle of Wight will be moved to a special enclosure featuring a ramp so he can gently waddle into the pool of water rather than having to jump in.
The Humboldt penguin, whose natural habitat is rookeries around the coasts of Chile and Peru, will make the move to Norfolk’s Sea Life Centre this evening along with 10 other penguins from the closing park.
The specially-adapted pool into which Dippy will dip his flippers is one of a very small number adapted to deal with arthritic penguins, having been previously had a ramp installed so the 23-year-old Lola could lower herself into the water with ease.
“Lola passed away two years ago aged 23, but now special arrangements we made for her can be of benefit to Dippy,” said Lorraine Adams, Seaview Wildlife Encounter’s director.
For almost two decades, Dippy has been the star attraction at the park, closing after 44 years on the Isle of Wight. The Humboldt penguin has his own Facebook page, as well as website, where his exploits are recorded for fans to observe.
“Because he is a hand-reared imprinted penguin, he loves humans more than his other penguin pals,” Adams said.
“He has never taken the slightest bit of notice of any of the other single females in the colony and only ever had eyes for the keepers. He is 20 years of age and over the last couple of years we have had some x-rays taken and he has developed arthritis in both hips.
“He is on medication daily and this helps and does not affect his swimming or his appetite or his affection for the staff,” Adams added.