Aviary Penguin Encounter

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Photo by Alyse Horn
Maggie, a South African Penguin, at the National Aviary.

By Ed Skirtich

“Honk, Honk,” Brruh!” Brruh” were the sounds the African penguins made at Aviary’s Penguin encounter before receiving fish during one of their feedings.

As Aviary volunteer Ed Ivanko fed the penguins by hand, another volunteer Janet Robb said the penguins can also catch the fish with the hook of their beak when chasing prey.

Teri Grendzinski, supervisor of animal husbandry and collections, said penguins like to eat sardines, anchovies, herring and mackerel.

She explained that penguins eat different in the wild than they do at the Aviary.

“They average three times a day in the wild and… once or twice a day [at the Aviary],” Grendzinski said.
Robb said penguins are “wonderful swimmers” and can go as fast as 15 miles per hour.

“They fly around the water,” Robb said.

In the while, penguins have many predators that like to eat them, however Gredzinski explained that penguins can avoid being eaten by swimming in groups to avoid seals and sea lions.

In addition, Robb said penguins can use splashing to confuse sharks and whales when being chased.

The penguins at the Aviary are South African penguins and Robb said they are designed to handle cold water and warm weather, adding that they like to sum themselves on the rocks at the Aviary.

Robb said the Aviary display is “like Boulder Beach in South Africa.”

At Penguin Point at the Aviary, there is also a cave where penguins can start a nest to help their population growth.

For more information on the Penguin Encounter, click here.

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