“It’s excellent socialization:” Racine Zoo welcomes four African penguins to exhibit

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RACINE –The Racine Zoological Society welcomed four male African penguins into its existing penguin colony of three males and three females.

All 10 African penguins are currently on indoor exhibit through the winter but can be seen through a special viewing window.

Bob, born in 2006, is the largest of the four, weighing in at more than 10 pounds. Eon, born in 2007, loves to swim and eat his fish off the floor. Stevie, born in 2009, is shy with people but loves other penguins, and Norman, the oldest of the new arrivals, was born in 1995 and is the friendliest of the group. All four penguins are on loan from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies located in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

“Adding birds to our existing penguin colony helps provide a more diverse and stable habitat for breeding,” said Beth Heidorn, Executive Director of the Racine Zoo. “Plus, it’s excellent socialization and keeps the penguins mentally stimulated as they play and interact with one another.”

Racine Zoo welcomes four African penguins to exhibit

The African penguin is medium-sized and the only species of penguin found at the southern tip of Africa. African penguins can remain under water for about 2.5 minutes and dive more than 100 ft. below the surface. Wild penguins can eat up to 14 percent of their body weight every day and favorite foods include anchovies, small fish, squid, and shellfish. African penguins can live up to 20 years in the wild and 30 to 40 years under human care.

There are 17 species of penguin living in the world today. All species are protected from hunting and egg collection however, many of them are near threatened, endangered, or critically endangered as populations continue to decline.