Calgary, AB – The king penguins at the Calgary Zoo are getting ready for their royal waddle for the ninth consecutive year. Beginning on Friday, January 15, 2021 the king penguins will be walking every day, weather dependent, at 10:00 a.m.
In the wild, king penguins can travel far distances to find open water so giving the birds the choice of a daily walk is tremendous for their health and overall well-being. It stimulates their mind, encourages exercise, and as naturally curious creatures, it offers them a change of scenery and a chance to explore more of their world here at the Calgary Zoo.
“Our king penguin colony anticipates the walk every morning as a part of their wake-up routine,” says Mike Teller, Curator, North Zone, Animal Care. “It is their decision whether to venture out and get that daily exercise, which is a big part of our environmental enrichment program and an essential component for the welfare of all animals in our care.”
Things will look a little different this year as the Calgary Zoo has introduced many enhanced safety precautions to this year’s walk, including advance timed ticketing, limited capacity viewing, mandatory masks for those aged 2+ while viewing the outdoor walk, and stationary viewing for the duration of the walk (~15 mins) to help maintain physical distance between households.
This year’s walk is extra special for zoo staff and visitors alike as it will be the first walk for the zoo’s newest king penguin chick, ‘Boudicca’, who hatched on July 18, 2020 to seasoned mom, ‘Grace’ and her partner, ‘Solomon’. During the walk you’ll easily be able to spot Boudicca by her roly-poly shape and fluffy down feathers. You can also be on the lookout for seasoned mama ‘Grace’ (purple band on her left wing) and proud papa, ‘Solomon’ (orange band on his right wing).
In addition to the new chick, zoo guests may see as many as 13 adult king penguins participating in the daily walk including: Diana, Grace, Arthur, Solomon, Tut, Cleopatra, Antoinette, Josephine, Louis, Phillipe, Henri, Napoleon and George! Calgary Zoo visitors may remember ‘Napoleon’ and ‘George’ from last year’s walk – as they were the 2 roly-poly king chicks! Keep an eye out for these best buds on this year’s walk to see them all grown up! ‘Napoleon’ has a yellow band on his right wing and ‘George’ has a light blue band on his right wing.
The daily walk starts at Penguin Plunge, loops down to the Discovery Trail Bridge, and then back up to the penguin habitat over a 15-minute period. The walk is dependent on the birds’ desire to walk as well as the weather. If the temperature warms up to +6°C, drops below -25°C, or the wind are too excessive, the walk will be cancelled. Cancellation updates will be posted to the zoo’s website and social media channels.