Archive for January, 2015

Ralph The Penguin’s Need To Keep Warm Makes Him Look Cool

January 23, 2015

As we all know penguins typically don’t need help staying warm, but the Penguin Post has learned that a Humboldt penguin named Ralph who lives in the United Kingdom with a rare condition has had a special wet suit made for him for when the temperature drops.

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While all penguins molt or shed their old feathers for a few weeks in the summer, Ralph, a 16-year-old Humboldt penguin at Marwell Wildlife, near Winchester in the United Kingdom, has “extreme molts” that cause bald spots on his skin, according to Ross Brown, the animal collections manager of birds at the center.

The feathers grow back only to fall out when he molts again. “Seven years ago we noticed that Ralph began molting any time of the year,” Brown says. “He goes bald and his body seems out of sync, but we don’t know why it started.” To protect Ralph from the cold and even the heat, he wears a custom rubber wet suit, just like the suits surfers wear in the ocean. Brown says that Ralph is not one to get lost in the crowd with a wet suit that says RALPH in capital letters. Ralph’s partner, Coral, can often be seen grooming Ralph’s wet suit like she would if he had feathers.

“You would think that he would be bullied or outcast because he looks different in his wet suit, but he stands his ground, he thinks he looks cool, he stands out from the crowd,” Brown said. We do too.