Everyone’s favourite flightless birds are stepping out of Vancouver Aquarium’s Penguin Point and going for a daily walk in front of visitors. It’s a chance for people to see the penguins up close, like never before, and take in their famous adorable waddle.
This week, the Vancouver Aquarium launches a fun and engaging new experience for visitors with its much-loved African penguins—the penguin walk. Guests are invited to watch the birds waddle along the beluga deck at the Arctic Canada Gallery, providing an enrichment opportunity for the birds and a delightful display for visitors.
“The penguin walk gives the birds a great opportunity to learn new behaviours, experience new sights and sounds, and get some extra exercise, which is an important part of the care we provide to animals at the Vancouver Aquarium,” says Brian Sheehan, marine mammal curator. “It also gives visitors a fun opportunity to see more of these charming birds’ personalities. Lillooet, for example, has a very curious streak and often stands in front of onlookers, peering at them while they peer back. Once she has satisfied her curiousity, she waddles along to investigate all the other interesting things that catch her eye.”
Numerous times a day, pairs of these beguiling creatures are invited to follow a team member and waddle along a path that curves around the beluga habitat at the Arctic Canada Gallery. This provides guests a chance to get closer to the birds and experience them without a glass barrier. It also allows visitors to see, first-hand, the waddle for which the flightless birds are known. The enchanting penguin walk occurs daily at the Arctic Canada Gallery prior to many of the beluga programs. A full show schedule can be found at www.vanaqua.org/experience.
“Through the penguin walk, guests have the opportunity to form a genuine connection with the African penguins, an endangered species,” adds Sheehan. “We hope they come away from the penguin walk even more enamoured with these captivating little creatures and interested in their survival.”
The penguins at the Vancouver Aquarium were bred at another aquarium as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan. The number of penguins in southern Africa has dropped 90 per cent since the early 1900s. North American zoos and aquariums, including the Vancouver Aquarium, are helping to save this species through population management, education and ocean-sustainability programs.