Saturday, January 9, 2016

Calgary Zoo penguins set to march again

By Bill Kaufmann, Calgary Sun
First posted:
Penguin walk
King Penguins walk in front of patrons at the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alta on Friday January 17, 2014. Jim Wells/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency
The Calgary Zoo’s own march of the penguins is set to begin anew on Saturday.

But if it gets too cold, like -25C, for the up to eight sub-Antarctic King penguins, they have the choice to cancel the strut scheduled daily at 11 a.m., said curator Dr. Malu Celli, adding the species aren’t adapted to extreme, sustained cold.
“They aren’t the same birds as in the film March of the Penguins...if we open the gate and they don’t want to come out, we don’t make them,” she said.
“Sometimes they don’t want to be out for longer periods of time.”
But that’s highly unlikely given the next week’s weather forecast that’s expected to be much warmer than that.
If anything, said Celli, the penguins will likely be eager to resume a practise that began in 2013.
“They do enjoy it — they’ll be waiting at the gate looking like ‘are we going yet?’ because they’ve done it for three years in a row,” she said.
“They like consistency.”
The birds that include Hera, Diana, Arthur, Solomon, Caesar, Grace, Tut and Nero will wander a 10-minute route that can bring them within less than a metre from their human fans, said Celli.
For chick Nero, born last Aug. 22, it’ll be the first walk and he may be reluctant to venture out, say zoo officials.
And for zoo visitors, it’s another chance to view the charming birds outside their normal confines, said Celli.
“It’s interesting for people to see them with a different perspective, in a different context,” she said.
“For the penguins, it’s exercise and stimulation so it’s a win-win.”
The daily penguin walk runs until early March, weather permitting.
If the weather’s too warm or windy, the daily event could be cancelled.
While zoo officials say king penguin wild populations are stable, they are threatened by the impact of climate change.
In the wild there are about 2 million king penguin breeding pairs.


No comments: