therese&joel

The perennially popular penguin

There are few things in life cuter than a penguin. OK, maybe when a penguin waddles, especially if there are more than one and it’s actually a parade!

The colony of African blackfooted penguins (Spheniscus demersus) in our Splash Zone family gallery is a must-see on any visit. These stout little birds are endlessly entertaining as they preen, feed, sleep, waddle and swim. You can also catch all the action every day on our Penguin Cam.

Each of our penguins has a name (look for identification bands on their wings) and there are several mated pairs. To date, those pairs have produced four chicks that grew up under both human and penguin care.

Cornerstone of our colony

Most of our penguins came from the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, arriving in 2005 for the debut of Splash Zone. Years later, they held a family reunion of sorts when we rescued the penguin colony (and two sea otters) from that aquarium after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. These southern cousins eventually returned home to much fanfare, and we were proud and happy to have hosted them. (We think the penguins were, too.)

Other penguins in our colony came from other zoos and aquariums. One of those is Bee, short for Bumblebee, who is 16 years old and came from the Memphis Zoo in 2010. Bee and her mate, Geyser, are the biological parents of Maq, one of the chicks hatched at the Aquarium that you can find on exhibit.

Bee is featured with National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore in an article about his Photo Ark project in Audubon magazine. She’s also the portrait on this post.

Our thanks to Joel for the wonderful images of our animals that he created for his Photo Ark project.