ZSL London Zoo’s new Penguin Beach opens tomorrow; I dodged rainshowers this morning to enjoy an exclusive preview.
As you can see from the pictures, the new penguin pool is much bigger than before. In fact, it’s five times larger, and three times deeper (at 2 metres) than the previous penguin pool. There are fantastic underwater viewing areas, so you can get really close to the penguins, and enjoy watching them “fly” underwater.
There are 66 penguins at the new Penguin Beach of different species:
- Humboldt (from South America)
- Macaroni (from Antarctica, with the yellowy plumes)
- Black-footed (from Africa, close relatives of the Humboldt)
- and the amazingly cute Rockhopper, called Ricky (who you can see doing his best rock hopping in the video below)
Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of the latest technology and zoology supporting this exciting new visitor attraction. There’s a nursery with a chick incubation unit, and a pool where the young penguins can learn to swim. Tom Hart, London Zoo’s penguinologist (it’s a real job!) hopes that together with ZSL, they’ll learn lots more about these endangered birds, their breeding habits and ways to improve their conservation.
Zoological Director David Field said, “This takes the zoo’s penguin tradition into a new era, allowing us to breed large colonies of threatened penguins in an amazing new habitat. Hopefully by witnessing how breathtaking these birds are we can encourage visitors to help protect them. We’re bringing penguin biology to the masses.”
At feeding time, you get a real taste (sorry!) for just how gorgeous these animals are as they dive and swim and splash after fish. Check out this slightly wobbly video for a sample of the new Penguin Beach: