The Penguin Post has learned that Tattoo organizers have arranged several flypasts by RAF jets – which produce an ear-splitting 140 decibels of noise – to coincide with the presence of a series of dignitaries during its Diamond Jubilee run.
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Zoo said there had been a number of exchanges over their concerns that its penguins might panic during their breeding season.
“Edinburgh Zoo was recently contacted and advised of military flyovers during the Edinburgh Tattoo,” she said. “A number of flyovers have been planned during the Tattoo’s run, whereby the jets’ flight path is directly over the zoo’s grounds.
“Because of this the zoo requested the flight path to be changed as the noise from the low-flying planes can be stressful for the animals.”
She said that while the vast majority of the animals would be adversely affected by the roar of the engines, the penguins were most at risk.
“The penguins in particular can become distressed by the sound of the jet engines. As it is the penguin breeding season the animals can get very stressed, which could potentially lead to eggs being broken or penguin chicks being trodden on in a panic.”
In an effort to minimize the impact of the noise, some animals have been kept in their enclosures at night. However, because the penguins live in an open pen, keepers have been unable to make any special arrangements for them.
Alan Smith, the Tattoo marketing manager, said that they were aware of the zoo’s concerns and had forewarned them about the noise.
“We informed Edinburgh Zoo of the flypasts at the beginning of the run. I think that was a courtesy because there had been an issue last year with the flypasts during the RAF year. That was brought to our attention, and we felt that if we were at least trying to give them some advance notice then preparations could be made to do what they could do to protect their animals. Smith said that both the Tattoo and the RAF had to abide by routes decided by air traffic control at Edinburgh Airport. “So it’s not as simple a question as the RAF or Edinburgh Tattoo determining the route of the aircraft.”
He added that there was just one more appearance by the RAF on Wednesday at 9pm this week: “We are obviously sympathetic to the penguins’ plight but we have one more flypast and we ask, as we always do at this time of year, for people’s patience.”