Today our Year 5 reporters will be writing about their recent and “cool” experience of looking after the penguins at Paultons Park.
Usually you associate penguins with chillier climates, however Humboldt penguins (the main type of penguin at Paultons) come from South America – particularly Chile and Peru. They like it there because the water comes straight from Antarctica. Penguins are built for both cold and warm climates, which makes them great animals to keep here in the UK with our jolly British weather!
At Paultons there are about 26 penguins, some are hatched here and others are brought in from other zoos around the country who they work closely with to ensure successful breeding programmes. Did you know in the wild a penguin can live about 20 years but in a conservation setting such as Paultons, a penguin can live up to 30!
We were lucky enough to be invited to help feed the penguins their lunch. We started by putting special supplements into the fish, when we asked the keeper about this she said that just like us humans, penguins need to take special supplements. After putting all the ready fish into a bucket, she informed us we would be chucking the fish into their pool for them to eat. We were concerned that not all the penguins would get enough fish – but she assured us it would be fine.
The penguins used their underwater flying style swimming skills and rushed over to us, eagerly awaiting their lunch. We gave them a little aperitif before the keeper gave them their proper lunch whilst speaking to the audience. As the keeper said, the penguins had their share of fish and then backed off, allowing other penguins to get their share.
Paultons truly believe in helping to safeguard these beautiful birds because sadly their population in the wild is declining. This is due to three main reasons:
Climate Change – When we researched this back at school, the numbers are alarming. Emperor penguins could become EXTINCT in the next 30 to 40 years due to climate change.
Overfishing – Penguins love to eat fish, crab, squid and other types of seafood but sadly due to human’s overfishing the seas, it’s not leaving enough for the penguins. You can help by looking out for seafood that is supported by sustainable organisations.
Guano – A fantastic resource for penguins to use to stick their nests together and incubate their eggs. Tragically humans are using this material as a plant feritliser which is affecting penguin breeding periods.
Paultons are extremely passionate about protecting penguins in the wild and donates annually to charity called Sphenisco. Sphenisco monitor and protect wild populations and breeding colonies of Humboldt penguins and campaign for the prohibition of fishing with gill nets and dynamite and to create marine protection areas. They work with local communities in areas of environmental education and raise awareness.
You can donate at www.sphenisco.org/en/ or alternatively there are donation boxes located at the penguin enclosure.
Thank you Paultons for the amazing opportunity, what an incredible experience and one we’ll never forget!