Penguins rock some serious bling!!
Torquay’s coastal zoo is home to 95 penguins of two species – African and macaroni. They are wearing new identification bands on their flippers - but one senior penguin, Mrs. Pops, can get hers off.
Senior keeper Lois Rowell: “No one has seen her do it, so we don’t know how she manages it. She has got it off three times now, so we are going to leave it off.” Another bird, Blinky, has removed his identification band twice and the keepers have replaced it.
Exhibit manager Clare Rugg said: “Wearing coloured plastic bracelets is all the rage with people, but Mrs. Pops is clearly not a fan!”
All birds in zoo collections are fitted with some kind of unique identification system so that individual birds can be recognised. These can be colour-coded rings or tags with numbers on them.
Lois: “These bands are better than the old metal ones we used to use – they are easier to read and easier to put on. We helped to trial different types of synthetic band, but many were hard to fit or were harsh on the birds’ feathers.”
The swanky new bands are black with white writing, which makes them easier for the keepers to read at a distance. They carry a unique combination of letters and numbers to identify the individual animals.
African penguin Mrs. Pops is a mature 27 years old. Lois: “Mrs Pops is a sweet little lady but nothing comes between her and her babies and she will let you know that.”