I ran away to Calgary for Easter weekend to spend sometime with some of my favourite people and see the penguins!
Penguins are fascinating creatures. They are considered to be marine/aquatic animals. This is because of how adapted they are to being in the water and how much time they spend in the water (half their lives). Think about it: they waddle on land, sometimes quite clumsily, but they are amazing swimmers, speeding gracefully around like little bird shaped rockets. All penguin species are native to the southern half of the planet, but, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t all deep south (Antarctic) animals. Many live in temperate areas (New Zealand and the southern shores of Australia, up the west side of South America, etc.) and some even live close to the equator (the Galapagos Penguin). If you want to see some of the wonderful penguin species, go here to explore the taxonomic Order Sphenisciformes (ARKive, which is what I just linked to, has an incredible collection of pictures and videos of all species, including all the penguins).
This is their indoor habitat. It’s kept cool and has water areas held with thick glass so that you can watch them swim. When we were there, we were surrounded by hordes of wee children, which was OK because we were taller them the kids and could just look over them, but I would have loved to have been able to just sit and watch them for quite a bit longer then I did.
They’re amazing swimmers. You only need to watch a few minutes of any penguin nature documentary to know this, but I still tried to get a few pictures just for fun. It wasn’t easy, which crowds trying to get in and get by and the penguins speeding around, this is the best I managed :)
Here’s a short video of a Gentoo swimming (go here if the video doesn’t show below):
This Rockhopper was preening and putting on quite the show for everyone. I believe she was also the screecher. Every now and then, you’d hear a high pitched, blood curdling screech. It was just her trying to get attention. Honestly, if the zoo worker hadn’t warned us, I would have been started enough to jump out of my shoes the first time I heard it.
Meanwhile, out in the exterior part of the habitat, the King penguins were playing follow-the-leader. It was pretty cute. They’d waddle a few feet forward, stop, look around, and shuffle a few more feet forward. They’re really gorgeous creatures.
With them were the Humboldt’s, who were making interesting calls (first one would, then another further down would, then another, and back to the first). Here’s a short video of the King’s shuffling along – you can here the Humboldts in the background (go here if the video doesn’t show below):