January 20, 2020
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Coordinator
This Penguin Awareness Day, we wanted to make sure you are aware of the five new arrivals to your Akron Zoo! These fine feathered friends just flew in (on a plane) from SeaWorld San Diego and have been getting settled in Akron since mid-November! Learn more about each one of our new Humboldt penguins below!
Zeke and Marcona
Zeke and Marcona came to us from SeaWorld as an established pair. Zeke was born on February 20, 2015 and can be identified by his black band with purple and orange tabs. Marcona was born on April 18, 2016 and can be identified by her clear band with black and green tabs. Since their arrival, both have begun to adjust to their new home and warm up to their keepers.
“Zeke was the most shy upon arrival,” says Rachel Bohach, Akron Zoo animal keeper. “He took the longest to warm up to me, but now he is the pushiest at feeding time. I usually catch him being naughty and stealing fish from everyone else in addition to eating his own.”
It seems the way to this penguin’s heart is through his stomach! Marcona, on the other hand, is not nearly as food motivated as Zeke.
“Marcona is very polite at feeding times and she never overeats,” says Bohach. “She’s usually the first to leave at every feeding, which can make it difficult to get her vitamins. You have to make sure the naughty boys don’t steal the fish from her, but you can’t wait too long or else she will decide she’s had enough and walk away. She hardly ever returns for seconds... no polite lady does, in her eyes.”
The two have certainly adjusted to their new home, and were able to join the larger colony on January 8, where they fit in swimmingly!
“Zeke & Marcona are a bit more apprehensive when it comes to being crowded by the colony during feed times,” says bird keeper Vicky Croisant. “However, they're integrating with the colony well and are learning the routine as far as coming into the building for feeds and navigating the pool and rocks in their new habitat.”
Huevo is our new Humboldt penguin bachelor, born on July 7, 2017. He can be identified by his black band with purple tabs. Keepers are optimistic that he will enjoy the single life because he is more in love with fish than the ladies.
“Huevo is extremely naughty at feeding time. I have to watch out for him the most,” says Bohach. “He likes to steal fish from the other birds, and if I’m not careful of where I’m holding the special vitamin fish, he will just help himself to them! He also gets very ‘grabby,’ and has nipped at my fingers a time or two if I’m not moving fast enough for his liking.”
Much like Zeke and Marcona, Huevo was also introduced to the larger colony on January 8, and has been fitting in well.
“Huevo is the most brave as far as participating in feeds and greeting me when I do morning rounds,” says Croisant. “He is also interested in exploring and learning his new habitat.”
Pluma was born on May, 23, 2016 and can be identified by her clear band with green & yellow tabs.
“Pluma was the very first penguin to come up to me for feeding and is still the most curious about what her keepers are up to,” says Bohach. “She is very polite at feeding times and waits patiently for her fish. Even though she looks like the smallest, she eats the most fish at every single feeding. In contrast to Marcona, Pluma is the first to arrive and the last to leave every feeding, and she will always come back for seconds.”
After her initial arrival and quarantine, Pluma was introduced to Guapo, one of the Akron Zoo’s male penguins. Keepers are hopeful that the two might become a mated pair in the future, since any offspring they had would help to further the Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP).
“With the addition of the new birds in our colony, not only do we have more breeding pairs created, but they are higher priority pairs,” says Croisant, who is aIso the Humboldt Penguin SSP Vice-Coordinator. “That means any chicks they may produce are valuable to the genetic diversity of the SSP.”
The pair has not yet joined the larger colony, but will instead be spending a few weeks off-habitat getting to know each other better.
“Guapo and Pluma are moving along slowly,” says Croisant. “I would consider them to be in more of a ‘roommate’ stage at the moment. They get along without aggression but spend their time on opposite sides of the room rather than together.”
Once the couple has bonded, they will also make their public debut as part of the large Humboldt penguin colony.
Anchovetta, who is lovingly referred to as “Chovie” by her keepers, also came to the Akron Zoo to find love. She was born on May 28, 2016 and can be identified by her clear band with black tabs. As part of the SSP, Anchovetta has been paired with Pedro.
“Anchovetta is a little on the wild side for a lady,” says Bohach. “She holds her own at feedings when the boys are trying to steal her fish, and has no qualms about her figure.”
Anchovetta has also demonstrated the most willingness to explore new enrichment. While in quarantine, the newcomers were all initially afraid of everything keepers gave them, but Anchovetta was usually the first to take the leap and check things out.
“She enjoys biting at the hose water when I’m cleaning, and playing in it if you make the hose into a waterfall,” says Bohach. “I’ve also caught her swimming in the pool while the hose is still on filling it to play in the current made by the running water.”
Anchovetta is still in a behind-the-scenes area getting to know Pedro. The two seemed to hit it off right away!
“Pedro and Chovie have become fast friends and spend a lot of time following each other or hanging out side-by-side,” says Croisant. “These are the types of behaviors we want to see before moving them into the habitat with the rest of the colony.”
Though the penguin population is booming at your Akron Zoo, it is important to be aware of the dwindling number of penguins in their natural habitats. The IUCN Red List categorizes the Humboldt penguin as a vulnerable species, while many other species of penguin are considered threatened or endangered. This Penguin Awareness Day, consider how you might make a change that improves the planet for species affected by climate change. This can be as simple as reducing waste or donating to organizations that fight carbon emissions.
As always, be sure to stop by your Akron Zoo to meet our new penguins, or visit our blog to learn about the rest of our penguin colony! A portion of the proceeds from every visit helps us to fund conservation projects around the world. We hope to see you soon!