Sunday, September 5, 2010

What's Happening: Exhibit Cleaning

How often do we clean the exhibit? Every day.

This is a major undertaking and could not be done without the help of all the awesome volunteers and interns that come in each day to help.

Penguin cleaning crew

Every morning after the penguins are fed, each of the six fiberglass islands need to be cleaned. First all the penguins that are standing on the island need to be escorted into the water. This ensures the penguins are getting some swimming time each day and also makes it easier for us to clean the islands, since the penguins can be very territorial and would probably try to bite us as we clean near them, not to mention that we want to keep them away from the disinfectant we use to scrub the islands.

Once all the penguins are in the water we hose off the islands with fresh water trying to remove all the loose guano (penguin poop).

Hosing off the island

Scrubbing the islands

The next step is to scrub the islands with a veterinary disinfectant. It looks a little soapy but it is safe for the birds and us to use, and it will disinfect the islands. We scrub every inch of each island making sure we get into every nook and cranny. The whole time we are cleaning the islands we need to make sure that the penguins stay off, which you can see in this video is sometimes easier said than done.

While the islands are getting cleaned someone is using an underwater vacuum to vacuum the bottom of the entire exhibit.

We also will scrub the algae off the bases of the islands, the underwater lights and the floor, using an assortment of brushes and a scrubbing pad called a Doodlebug. (Sometimes we even do a little Doodlebug dance! Check back again soon to find out what we're talking about.)

An assortment of brushes

This cleaning process takes between two-three hours every morning. It may seem redundant to get in the next day and clean the exhibit again. But a clean exhibit is a healthy exhibit for the penguins.

- Andrea


  1. Cool! this is the first time I saw cleaning process of the penguin exhibit. Seems so difficult to clean it. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. Looking forward for your next post.


  2. Gosh, believe it or not I miss doing that. And especially miss the penguins.

  3. How interesting! I love penguins and it's pleasant to see that there are people taking such a great care of them!

  4. Great job! I'm sure the penguins are happy to have guardians like you!

  5. Why do you need disinfectant? I understand cleaning cause of the smells and so on, but penguins in the wild basically live in their guano and they are healthy.