By: Leigh Ramon, Animal Curator
There are several important pieces to putting together a new exhibit, but perhaps the most highlighted are the individual animals to be showcased! Building our penguin flock started many years ago. Each penguin that we house was bred with the purpose of coming to Evansville to teach our guests why Humboldt penguins are so special and need our help to survive into the future! We received birds from 6 different institutions across the country. This helps ensure we have a good mix of genetics for potential breeding down the line. When the time comes, we will breed animals to build the numbers in our own flock, as well as send some to other AZA institutions to breed there!
It is fairly well-known that within a species, individual animals have varying characteristics that make each of them unique and special! Humboldt penguins are no exception. Each of our birds can be identified by a unique arm band on their wing, but overtime keepers also identify individuals by these characteristics. Below are examples of a few animals and their unique characteristics.
Prince is our tallest penguin. He is never first in line to try anything, old or new.
Chirrida, “Chirri”, is our littlest penguin. She is very curious and likes to watch the keepers clean her space.
Marco loves to be in the water. He also enjoys exploring his habitat’s rocky terrain.
Marcona is the bravest of our penguins. She is always leading the way for the others.
Not only do these individual elements help keepers identify the birds, but noticing changes in these norms can help alert keepers to an animal having an off day. It is very important to catch abnormalities early because exotic animals are built to hide illness from predators. Noting small changes in behavior is an essential quality to being an exceptional zookeeper. Interested in zookeeping? See if you can use the characteristics above to pick out these individuals on your next visit this state-of-the-art exhibit!