While the African and rockhopper penguins are definitely missed during the construction, families have been gushing over the super-close viewing access of our little blue penguins. Kids are going nose-to-nose with these adorable birds through the glass. Some of them appear to enjoy interacting with visitors, in fact.
Well, we have some exciting news about these penguins: the colony is about to get a lot bigger!
Let’s back up for a moment here. In June of 2012, 14 little blue penguins came over to the United States from the Taronga Zoo in Australia. They went through a month long USDA (U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture) quarantine in California before making the trip to Boston. Right now, visitors can see these beautiful little blue penguins in the temporary penguin exhibit near the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center. The birds pad around on sandy floor, clamber up and down the ramp and take dips in the pool. They seem quite comfy in their temporary home!
Just next door, another 15 little blues are behind the scenes getting the same TLC from the penguin staff. These are the New England Aquarium birds you remember from the exhibit! Until now, the two groups have been kept separate due to a month long Aquarium quarantine and followed by their yearly molts.
Well, the time has come to introduce the two groups. Visitors will be able to see even more little blues when they tuck into the temporary exhibit area to watch the penguins. But some of the little blues will still remain off exhibit. You see, bringing these penguins across international boundaries was an unprecedented move to make sure our breeding population of little blue penguins is genetically diverse. Hopefully the couples that remain behind the scenes will enjoy getting to know each other to keep our breeding program a success! (Learn more about the African penguins breeding program—or species survival plan—here.)