Penguins find new home after their zoo closes due to pandemic
A waddle of penguins have found a new place to live after losing their home when their zoo closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 12 macaroni penguins, from Living Coasts in Torquay, Devon, faced having to relocate to Europe when the attraction announced its closure during the summer.
They were given a new home at Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where the UK’s only other population of macaroni penguins is based.
After a short quarantine period, the six male and six female penguins joined the zoo’s four male macaroni penguins and 19 Humboldt penguins.
Tim Morphew, zoo curator at Folly Farm, said: “In an ideal world, we would be welcoming these new penguins to the Folly Farm family under happier circumstances.
“Zoos across the UK and Europe have had a very difficult year.
“We’re sad to see Living Coasts close, but a small positive for us is that we’ve been able to able to lend a hand by giving these amazing birds a new home in the UK.”
Keepers at Folly Farm collected the penguins from Living Coasts in July.
Folly Farm is now the only place in the UK with macaroni penguins, which are classed as a vulnerable species.
The rehomed family will join Folly Farm’s existing male macaroni penguins as part of a breeding programme to help increase numbers in European zoos and the wild.
“We’ve learned from previous experience that macaroni penguins are very laid back, they aren’t fazed by much,” Mr Morphew said.
“We’re lucky at Folly Farm to have a purpose-built penguin quarantine area which gave us an opportunity to spend 30 days getting to know these new macaroni penguins before introducing them to their new housemates at Penguin Coast.
“They’ve settled in beautifully and we’re starting to see their characters and their personalities coming out.
“They’re a very playful species, they love hopping on the rocks, playing with bubbles and looking at themselves in the mirror.”
Keepers are hoping the macaroni penguin breeding programme will follow the success of its Humboldt penguin breeding programme, which has seen 34 chicks born over the past six years.
To make room for the new macaroni penguins, nine of the zoo’s Humboldt penguins were relocated to Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire to join the breeding programme there.
Clare Rugg, senior curator at Paignton Zoo and formerly at Living Coasts, said: “When we heard that Living Coasts was to close, the first thing we needed to do was to ensure that we found suitable homes for the animals.
“We had previously worked with Folly Farm and they already held some of our macaroni penguins from a previous move.
“Folly Farm was therefore an obvious choice when moving the macaroni penguins. They have an excellent track record in keeping penguins and had a suitable enclosure for them.”