On a sandy beach in the central part of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo you’ll find…penguins?!?
That’s right! The zoo has fifteen African Penguins – what a fantastic number! These are not the type of penguins you’d typically see marching in the arctic. Where they live in Southern Africa has a similar climate to Northern Indiana – hot summers & cool winters.
Weighing in at around 5-10 pounds, the penguins are fed a type of fish called capelin every morning and afternoon.
The penguins are very icky eaters. Many of them won’t eat a fish if it’s bent a certain way. Some penguins are so picky they’ll only eat a specific gender of capelin. But when they’re really hungry, they can eat as many as 20 fish during a feeding!
Each of the penguins have names, like Chunk, Journey, and Hugh – who is molting and growing in new feathers.
Aside from eating, the penguins have plenty of activities to keep them busy. They have holes to huddle in, grass to waddle through, and enrichment items to play with, like string and happy meal toys. They also like to chase after flies, bees, and butterflies.They can also go for a swim too. The penguins swim up to fifteen miles-per-hour and can hold their breath for two and a half minutes.
African Penguins are endangered. In fact, the population has declined by more than 90% over the past two-hundred years. It’s estimated that there are only about 52,000 breeding pairs left in the wild. At this rate, the African Penguin may be extinct in as little as 15-20 years! The zoo has them here to protect them and help nurture new babies.
If you’d like to waddle over and try feeding the penguins yourself, the zoo does VIP feedings on Saturdays and Sundays.