9th Dec, 2016

Penguins experience bad hair day as Gentoo type moult their feathers

Solihull Editorial 23rd Aug, 2016 Updated: 24th Oct, 2016

FEATHERS are flying at The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham as the colony of Gentoo penguins moult their feathers.

Unlike other aquatic birds who lose their feathers one or two at a time, the Gentoo penguins lose their feathers all at once in a two-week long bad hair day.

And with so many penguins moulting at the same time, staff have said their enclosure looks like the aftermath of a giant pillow fight.

Naomi Bird, penguin keeper at The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham, said: “Feathers are quite literally flying around the enclosure at the moment.

“Moulting is a normal part of the development in healthy and happy penguins like ours and simply means that the old feathers are replaced by beautiful new ones.

“During this process, the special waxes the penguins usually create to waterproof their feathers aren’t produced so the birds stay on land and forgo the regular dives and swims they’re so renowned for.

“The Gentoos also lose their appetite during the moult although in the weeks before it occurs, they gorge themselves on plenty of oily and nutrient rich fish to help build up the natural fat reserves that protect them from the cool Antarctic climate they thrive in.”

To visit the dishevelled-looking Gentoo peguins, visit www.SEALIFE.co.uk/birmingham/ to pre-book tickets.