That’s one way to stay interested during lockdown.
Penguins at a zoo in England who would typically be occupied with feeding shows and guests were instead kept active with a bubble machine, British news agency South West News Service reports.
The flightless birds at Newquay Zoo in Newquay, England, are being kept entertained thanks to an anonymous donor, chasing the bubbles around and keeping their reflexes sharp, zookeeper Dan Trevelyan said.
Pickles the penguin enjoys playing with bubbles at the Newquay Zoo. (Credit: SWNS)
“The bubble machine is fantastic as all the movement and new shapes and colors really stimulate these guys, they have a great time chasing them around,” Trevelyan said. “Things have had to change a little bit during lockdown, the animals’ routines has changed a little bit on a daily basis and we’ve had to cut out some of the experiences and things they would receive throughout the day.”
Newquay Zoo is home “hundreds of species,” according to its website, but with the lack of visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic, enrichment programs designed to stimulate and encourage natural behavior became a challenge.
The Humboldt penguins that live at the zoo are fast swimmers, reaching speeds up to 30 mph. They survive on a diet consisting of anchovies, krill and squid, making the bubbles all the more important, Trevelyan added. “In the wild, these guys are marine predators they are very sensitive to objects and movement.”
The birds are usually kept occupied by feeding shows and guests visiting the zoo, but due to coronavirus, their daily routine was forced to change. (Credit: SWNS)
The bubbles do not cause any harm to the curious penguins and the technique has been used on some of the zoo’s other animals, including Squirrel monkeys and Sulawesi crested macaques, SWNS added.
The zoo reopened to the public on July 1 as the U.K. continues to partially reopen parts of its economy.
“All these donations are really appreciated, the best way to support us at the minute is by coming to visit us,” Trevelyan said.
Keeper Dan Trevelyan said the penguins, as predators, love chasing the bubbles as it keeps their reflexes sharp. (Credit: SWNS)
As of Thursday morning, more than 13.5 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, more than 293,000 of which are in the U.K.