This week we are celebrating our first ever penguin week so this weeks blog is all about working with penguins
We currently have 13 Kings and 9 Humboldts under our care. Compared to a lot of the other species we keep, the penguins are pretty straight forward to care for. The first thing we do every day is do a head count to make sure everyone is present & correct. At this point we are also looking to see if anyone looks ill, if any eggs have been laid or if the enclosure has any damage (fallen branches etc)
We then have to clean the enclosure. As I’m sure you can imagine, 22 penguins eating nothing but fish can make a lot of mess so the main part of the enclosure is pressure washed every single day. This takes about half an hour to get rid of the days droppings!
Feeding time takes place at 2.30 each day and the food has to be prepared in advance. Fish is defrosted overnight and then vitamin tablets, and any medicine, is placed in the herring/sprats. The vitamins make up for anything lost during freezing/defrosting and for the lack of variety compared to a natural, wild diet.
Feeding takes about half an hour and this is when we chat to the public about the penguins, telling them about their lifestyle and how to recognise the individuals in the group.
The pool is cleaned once a week. To do this we pull the plug overnight and let the pool empty. We then either pressure wash or bleach the pool floor and walls (the bleach is pumped away so as not to go in the river). Cleaning takes about 90 minutes and the pool then refills via the waterfall, which is pumped from a well. Our pool is fresh water and we don’t add any salt. The glass on the pool windows is cleaned every day to remove hand prints
With the birds being popular with the public and all being adopted it is important we know who is who. This is also vital when it comes to breeding time and we have to know who is paired with who. We regularly tag our penguins using coloured cables ties/beads to quickly identify them. The birds all have their own special features and behaviours to help you recognise certain individuals and if that fails, they are all micro chipped as well.
Only the Humboldts require nesting assistance and we provide boxes and materials to help them breed.
Look out for us in the local papers as we have been photographed for Penguin Week
With it being Penguin Week we have a special penguin quiz running. 17 questions relate to 17 species of penguin and we have special labels around the park with info on every single species. We also have extra penguin artefacts at the Meet the Keeper including a 6 foot cuddly penguin
This weeks news:
The Bank Holiday was again a busy day with lots of guests and Chris & Helen running hands on sessions from 11 through til 4.30 with Owls, Frogmouth, Snakes, Snails & Cockroachs all being handled
3 Temmincks Tragopan chicks have hatched today and are following mum around the aviary. Dad has been removed as he will play no part in raising the young.
The Kookaburras have produced their first egg of the year. Last year they destroyed every egg produced so this has been removed and is being incubated and, if fertile, will be hand reared
The Snowy Owls are up to 3 eggs in the nest and the Rheas have 8.
We have placed a Military Macaw egg in the Moluccan Cockatoo nest to see if that stimulates them to try and breed. We don’t wish to breed the Militarys this year so haven’t provided a box but they laid an egg on the floor. It’s hoped that the Cockatoos will get broody & produce eggs of their own. They have been in the box a lot and have also been seen mating!
The Emerald Dove chick has fledged
The Chaco Owl chick has opened its eyes and has been taking part in the daily Meet a Keeper talks
Green Imperial Pigeon, Golden Pheasant & Roul Roul Partridge eggs have been removed from the incubator as they were infertile
We have further nests from the Sacred & Waldrapp Ibis
Our female Corn Snake has laid at least 14 eggs
The resident pair of Grey Wagtails may have chicks, both birds are very active along the Windrush gathering food
A pair of Great Tits nesting by the keepers kitchen have chicks
This Moth was seen yesterday but not sure yet as to which species it is
Happy penguin week (follow Spike on Facebook & Twitter for lots of Penguin facts)