Penguins Knock Off Elephants In Toronto

The Penguin Post has learned that the Toronto Zoo decided last week to send its popular elephants packing, but it is about to unleash a new draw for visitors. Penguin pizzazz. African penguins, not seen at the zoo since 1993, are back in an exhibit opening this Saturday, May 21, at the entrance to the African Savannah. The flightless birds, described by the zoo as black and white but “always up for full-color fun” are endangered in the wild, their breeding grounds in South Africa and Namibia declining under oil spills and other human encroachment. But the first 12 penguins at the zoo, ranging from four to 20 years old, have come from zoos in the United States. More will be coming soon, but not from the wild, Tom Mason, curator of birds and invertebrates said in a statement this week. The penguins will share the exhibit, big enough for 50 birds, with other waterfowl, including Cape shelducks and pink-backed and great white pelicans. The zoo plans to add the other species gradually, so the birds can get used to each other, Mason said. The new, 6,000-square-foot penguin habitat was fashioned from the old African fur seal pool and building – the zoo’s last fur seal has gone – but with a state-of-the-art underwater viewing area, a large window for watching penguins as they shelter from the cold, and video monitors where visitors can see wild African penguins. As part of a Special Survival Plan, the zoo contributes to sea bird rehabilitation centers in South Africa and believes knowledge gained on their nutritional needs and how to prevent diseases in the penguins will help the species survive. The captive population “can and do play an important role,” said Mason. Penguins from the exhibit that closed in 1993 were shipped to other zoos – the last penguins were sent away in 1995 – because the air flow in the African pavilion had changed in a way “which appeared to be detrimental to the birds,” Mason said. Of interest, considering their expected life span is 10 to 12 years, a pair of former Toronto Zoo penguins, both 30, now live at the West Edmonton Mall.

Some Canadian Penguins that don't play hockey


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