Penguins predict summer is on the way

May 27, 2013

The Great British summer is finally on the way… according to ZSL London Zoo's penguins.

Keepers have noticed that the 50-strong colony at the Zoo's Penguin Beach exhibit have started piling on the pounds ready for their annual moult; which takes place every summer.

Each penguin is weighed weekly – hopping on the scales before diving into their pool for a morning swim - so that their keepers can monitor their health and predict when the will begin their moult.

Penguins' go through quite a bit of wear and tear – they rub against each other, scramble over rocks and spend lots of time in the water, so every year they lose all of their feathers and grow a completely new set.

Head of at ZSL London Zoo, Adrian Walls said: "While most people put themselves on a in preparation for a summer on the beach, penguins are the exact opposite and do everything they can to fatten themselves up.

"We trained the penguins to jump on the scales for us, so that we can estimate when the moult will begin, and we've noticed that Ricky the Rockhopper and co. are all looking more rotund – a sure sign that summer is on the way."

The old feathers stay in place until the new feathers start coming through, so the usually-pristine penguins can look quite scruffy during the moulting process.

Adrian added: "Some of our penguins are really vain characters and hide behind their when they're looking a bit bald."

The penguins spend more time on land while they lose their waterproof layer, but as they all moult at slightly different stages, visitors to ZSL are guaranteed to see those with their brand new feathers showing off in the two-metre deep pool during the daily Penguin Beach Live! talks.

Explore further: China's latest survey finds increase in wild giant pandas

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spotted: Rare spotted penguin

Jan 31, 2013

(Phys.org)—Little penguins, also known as fairy penguins, usually have a white belly and dark blue back to camouflage them from predatory eagles above and their fish prey below.

Japan zoo hunts for escaped penguin

Mar 05, 2012

The hunt was on Monday for a penguin that scaled a sheer rock face to escape from a Tokyo zoo, and was last seen swimming in a river in the Japanese capital.

Recommended for you

A molecular compass for bird navigation

Feb 27, 2015

Each year, the Arctic Tern travels over 40,000 miles, migrating nearly from pole to pole and back again. Other birds make similar (though shorter) journeys in search of warmer climes. How do these birds manage ...

100,000 bird samples online

Feb 27, 2015

The Natural History Museum (NHM) in Oslo has a bird collection of international size. It is now available online.

New genetic technologies offer hope for white rhino

Feb 27, 2015

With support from the Seaver Institute, geneticists at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are taking the initial steps in an effort to use cryopreserved cells to bring back the northern white rhino from the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.