London Zoo unveils paradise for penguins

Katy Holland

It sounds like the perfect holiday spot. A private beach, a pool, free food and childcare on tap.

And it's all been designed for London Zoo's penguins.

The zoo has just unveiled England's largest penguin pool, a huge enclosure that will one day house a 200-strong breeding colony.

The original penguin pool closed eight years ago after experts deemed it no longer suitable. The penguins had to be moved to a more natural but smaller enclosure.

Now the zoo has finished its replacement, a 13,000 sq ft pool called Penguin Beach, which is four times bigger and three times deeper hold ing 100,000 gallons of water.

Sixty-six Humboldt, macaroni, black-footed and rock-hopper penguins – all at risk in the wild – have moved in. They will eat up to 80lb of fish every day.

A hand-rearing unit, with its own paddling pool for baby penguins to get used to water, is already home to two four-week-old chicks.

The pool has underwater viewing areas so that visitors can see the flightless birds in their element, and landscaping which mimics the penguins' southern hemisphere habitats.

The Zoological Society of London's penguin expert Tom Hart said of Penguin Beach: 'It's much bigger and deeper. Ones that like the beach or rocky shores have got their habitats. They look really happy.'

With a beach, pool and round-the-clock childcare, it has everything a pampered penguin could want.

And judging by all the exciting splashing and diving yesterday, the inhabitants are delighted to be in their new home.

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