Penguins New Clothes Delays Opening

The Penguin Post has learned that the Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy, Utah has deferred the opening of the highly anticipated penguin exhibit until late March, and the penguins’ switch to new “formal wear” is to blame.

Most penguin species go through one complete molt (shed their feathers) each year, usually after the breeding season. Depending on the species, the average length of the molt varies from 13 days to 34 days. The Living Planet Aquarium will be receiving 11 penguins for the new exhibit, three of which are chicks, hatched in late 2009, two are adults (a breeding pair, over 4 years of age), and the remaining 6 are a year old (hatched in 2008). All of the birds are currently preparing to molt. Molts are very stressful because the birds are using their energy stores to build new feathers, leaving little energy to fight disease. Penguins are very susceptible to fungus in the lungs and can develop pneumonia quite easily; a serious and life threatening problem in penguins. The penguins will be arriving from Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. Molting is a very stressful time for the penguins, and long distance transport can also be a stressful time as well. Both stressors happening at the same time would put the birds in a dangerous position. In order to make this transition to the facility with the least amount of stress possible, transportation has been postponed until they have completed the molting process.

“Once the molt begins it will take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to complete” said Andy Allison, Curator of Animals. The aquarium had planned for the penguins to arrive in-house by February 10 but arrival will most likely be late February, pushing back the exhibit opening closer to late March 2010.

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