Rescued Penguins Make a Home in Long Beach Aquarium

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brazilian penguins rescued

Rescued in Brazil, these five penguins are settling in to their new Long Beach home at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Photo by Andrew Reitsma, courtesy of the Aquarium.

Late last week, the Aquarium of the Pacific welcomed five Magellanic penguins to Long Beach. Found stranded off a beach in Brazil, they are the first penguins in the Aquarium’s collections. The five young birds are believed to be yearlings.

“You don’t normally find these penguins much farther north than the Falkland islands. The locations of their food sources are changing, perhaps due to climate change, and penguins have to travel farther in search of food,” said Dudley Wigdahl, Aquarium of the Pacific curator of marine mammals and birds. 

Magellanic penguins are typically found near the southern tip of South America in Chile and Argentina, where they feed on small fish such as sardines and anchovies. Hundreds of these penguins have been found stranded in Brazil. After rescue, some of these birds are strong enough to return to the wild while others are deemed unreleasable because of health issues.

“When these penguins stranded in Rio, they were frail and emaciated after such a long swim up the Atlantic coast of South America. We’re happy to be able to provide a home and medical care for these animals,” Wigdahl said. The new penguins will be cared for by the Aquarium of the Pacific aviculturist (bird biologist) team and veterinary staff in the Aquarium’s behind-the-scenes holding area. The penguins will go on exhibit in summer of 2012 when the Aquarium debuts the June Keyes Penguin Habitat.

Although not planned, the penguins’ arrival couldn’t be more timely. Next month the Aquarium opens a new exhibit in the special gallery titled Arctic & Antarctic: Our Polar Regions in Peril. Transporting visitors to the icy edges of the Earth, the exhibit will highlight the animals, plants, and people of these regions and explain how climate change puts these fragile ecosystems at risk. Arctic & Antarctic will address the impact of climate change in the polar regions including the topics of: melting ice, the rise in global sea levels, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, and the speed at which these changes are taking place.

Member previews for Arctic & Antarctic and the Ocean Science Center will be held on Monday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 24, between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The exhibits will open to the public on May 28.

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