Last Sunday Ocio and Safara (our red-banded couple) were re-introduced to the colony following a stay in the “love shack” to encourage pair bonding between them. This was the pair’s second stay off-exhibit together and, although they don’t seem to be spending time with each other of their own accord yet, progress was definitely made. During their first stay the two were almost completely uninterested in each other and never occupied their nest box at the same time. By the end of this most recent trip the two were almost constantly following each other around and were often seen in the nest box together. Hopefully over the next few weeks we’ll see them gravitate back towards each other but, if not, we’ll try again once things with the rest of the colony have settled down in terms of territories and mates. Ocio and Safara are young birds (5 and 4 years old, respectively) as are about half of the birds currently in our colony. African penguins reach sexual maturity in the wild at anywhere from 2-6 years of age so it’s not unexpected for our youngsters to take some additional time to form solid pair bonds.
Here are some close-ups of the two from this week:
In other news Pierre (blue-banded male) is 28 years old and is our oldest penguin. He’s also our most famous. If you haven’t read it yet there’s a great book called Pierre the Penguin which chronicles Pierre’s adventure wearing the first custom fit wet-suit for a penguin. A few years ago Pierre did not undergo his yearly molt as usual. As a result his feathers continued to wear down and, eventually, he became bald over the majority of his body. He was cold, shivering, wasn’t able to swim comfortably and was being picked on by the other penguins. His wetsuit improved the quality of his life tremendously and he was eventually able to re-grow his own feathers. He’s molted successfully since then and is currently about 2/3rds of the way finished with the process for this year.
He was not amenable to having his picture taken so here’s one of him trying to get some privacy in his nest: