Penguins arrive at Scovill Zoo; make themselves at home
DECATUR—After three long years of fundraising, searching for the right animals, and construction, there are actual penguins calling Scovill Zoo their home.
Arriving earlier this week from Wichita, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, the 6 Humboldt penguins have spent the last 48 hours becoming acclimated to their new home.”They are doing much better now than they were when they first got here,” Zookeeper Mary Barnes says. “When they first arrived it was tough to get them to come out from inside the exhibit, but now we can’t get them out of the water.” Barnes says she spends roughly 5 hours per day with them as they continue to become acclimated to their new surroundings, “They know that I bring them food, now, so they will come up to me more willingly than they had just two days ago. They were really nervous and tentative when they first got here but that has disappeared.”
The six penguins are soon to be joined by four more; Assistant Zoo Director said he is going to pick up an additional two of them on Thursday, “The next two will be here in time for Boo at the Zoo this weekend, we have arrangements to go pick them up this week.” Frye says he isn’t too sure about the remaining two, “It really depends on the weather, it takes some time for them to adjust to the weather so we like to move them from one 60 degree climate to another one that is 60 degrees.”
Totaling ten in all, there will be five males and five females, with only two of them related; a pair of sisters. Frye says if the timing is right and the head stud keeper deems it necessary, the birds could reproduce in Decatur in order for younger ones to be shipped out to zoos across the nation. A native of Chile and Peru, the penguins are not your typical black and white cold weather birds. The Humboldt penguins are white, tan, and brown in color and can handle all types of weather so they will be allowed access to their outside habitat all year round.
During our special meet and greet with the animals on Wednesday morning, the birds were very photogenic and friendly, regularly swimming up to the glass and interactive with one another. It’s a trend that Frye says he hopes continues into the weekend, “It’s difficult to tell with the birds, we have only had them for a couple of days at this point. When we first got them they were nervous but every day we have noticed progress, we hope that when everyone comes through for Boo at the Zoo they will remain active because I know a lot of people have been looking forward to this.”
“It feels great to finally have them here,” Frye said. “It’s been a long three years and we are just so happy to finally have them here and we hope the public is just as satisfied with them as we are.
Boo at the Zoo begins on Friday evening at 5:30 and runs through Sunday. It starts again next week on October 25th and runs through Halloween before the zoo closes for the season on November 1st.