Not so pretty penguins…

If you’re planning a visit to us over the summer then you may notice that our huddle of Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) look a bit different to normal. This is because it’s currently moulting season for them!

Each year the penguins all go through what’s known as a ‘catastrophic moult’. This is the process of them losing their old feathers and growing new ones. Although they may look rather untidy, this natural process is vital to maintaining their waterproof coats. This process lasts for around two weeks for each penguin.

The Animal Care Team always know when the moult is about to start as the penguins start to gain lots of weight. During their moulting period, parts of their body will become bare and without feathers, leaving their insulation and waterproofing compromised! This means that they are unable to hunt for their food in the wild and will remain on land until their plumage is in its best condition. The extra weight gained will allow them to live off their fat reserves whilst they finish their moulting and are able to hunt again.

All of our Humboldt Penguins are currently at different stages of their moult, so don’t worry if they all look a little different to one another! This is a natural process that happens each year around this time.

Humboldt penguins are currently classed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Be sure to stop by for a visit at Inca Trail on your next adventure to Colchester Zoo!

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