SeaWorld celebrates World Penguin Day and provides world-class animal care for nine penguin species

  • SeaWorld is committed to penguin conservation as 13 of the 18 species are considered threatened or endangered
  • The only place in the Western Hemisphere to house emperor penguins is SeaWorld San Diego, where guests can see them up close and learn more.
  • As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, SeaWorld participates in the Species Survival Plan to protect penguin species
  • Penguin conservation expands inside and outside the park thanks to grants from the SeaWorld Conservation Fund

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ORLANDO, Florida., April 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ SeaWorld today celebrates World Penguin Day, an annual celebration to encourage learning more about this species and its environment. Penguins are the second most threatened seabird with 13 of the 18 penguin species facing some level of threat. Dedicated to the care and conservation of penguins for decades, SeaWorld has experience with nine penguin species, including the Emperor, King, Adelie, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Magellanic and the Humboldt, providing world-class care and habitats that reflect the unique needs of each species. As an accredited zoological facility, SeaWorld participates in the Species Survival Program for Humboldt penguins. It also advances penguin conservation outside of its parks through grants from the SeaWorld Conservation Fund.

“Penguins are hardy creatures but require specialized environmental conditions to thrive,” said Andrea Roggenbuck, supervisor of zoological operations at SeaWorld San Antonio. “The knowledge and expertise of SeaWorld’s animal care specialists is essential to maintaining the health of our penguin populations and ensuring the conservation of these valuable species.”

The only place to see emperor penguins in the Western Hemisphere

Most people don’t have the opportunity to see penguins in the wild. The unique ability to observe and learn directly from animals in human care increases public awareness and appreciation of wildlife.

SeaWorld San Diego is the only zoo and aquarium in the Western Hemisphere to house emperor penguins, the largest penguin species. Emperor penguins can dive deeper than any other penguin. The Emperor’s last recorded dive depth is 563 meters and the longest recorded dive was 23.1 minutes, both in isolated dive holes. Like other penguin species, they often leap through the air while swimming in a natural behavior called porpoising. One of the most unique characteristics of emperors is that they breed during the austral winter, when it is dark and temperatures are sub-zero and turbulent.

“Emperor penguins are a unique species unlike any other and it is an honor and a privilege to have them at SeaWorld San Diego,” said Hunter Andrews, Senior Poultry Farmer at SeaWorld San Diego. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to educate the public about this near-threatened species in a truly unprecedented experience.”

All SeaWorld parks have exhibits on penguin species native to colder climates, such as chinstrap and Adelie penguins. These exhibits are on Antarctic time, which means the seasons are the opposite of those experienced in North America. The lighting changes to reflect the opposite season and keep the penguins breeding and molting on their natural and biological schedule.

World-class care and habitats that reflect the unique needs of each species

Animal care specialists and veterinarians at SeaWorld parks care for the penguins daily by observing and evaluating behavior and checking each animal’s physical health with any health concerns immediately addressed. Each species of penguin has different behavioral patterns and biological makeup that dictate the care they receive. The penguins receive daily vitamins and health checks to assess their general physical condition. SeaWorld aviculturists (bird specialists) also document penguin nesting and rearing routines to ensure normal behavior.

The preparation of the diet differs between penguin species. While smaller species, including rockhopper penguins, need a diet of smaller fish like capelin, larger species like king penguins are fed larger fish like herring. The fish fed to the birds is tested for nutritional quality and is restaurant quality.

Penguin habitats are designed to accommodate behavioral differences between species, such as nesting styles. Chinstrap, rockhopper and gentoo penguins need smooth rocks in their habitats to build nests to incubate their eggs, while king penguins incubate their eggs on their feet under their brood patch.

When it comes to caring for their young, penguins often adopt or adopt other young penguins. For example, a pair of two male gentoo penguins at SeaWorld San Antonio was observed building a nest together, taking turns guarding the nest site and mimicking the behavior of the intended parents. They were so attentive to their nesting site that after many observations and trials, the pair were selected to serve as foster parents to an egg. In 2020, this Gentoo couple received a chinstrap penguin egg in need of care. The pair managed to incubate this egg of a different species and took turns feeding the chick when it hatched. The pair raised the chick and fostered another chick during the last breeding season. Both chicks are chinstrap penguins, and both are doing well today.

SeaWorld’s role in the Species Survival Plan (SSP)

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) SSP is a propagation and management program aimed at preserving selected species in accredited zoos, many of which are threatened or endangered. The AZA Animal Population Management Committee (APMC) has designated an SSP for several penguin species. As an AZA-accredited facility, SeaWorld San Diego is an SSP Participating Institution, which cares for and maintains sustainable populations of various penguin species, including Humboldts, in partnership with the AZA.

Conservation of penguins in and out of its parks

SeaWorld teaches the importance of species conservation through educational and exciting park activations. This year, SeaWorld San Diego and Penguins International have joined forces to offer guests the Emperor, a penguin-inspired penguin that spotlights emperor penguins as an incredible and unique species.

“We are grateful to partner with SeaWorld San Diego to advance penguin conservation efforts,” said Katie Propp, director of conservation education at Penguins International. “Conservation starts with awareness. We’re proud to work with SeaWorld to educate visitors about the importance of Emperor Penguins through park activations such as SeaWorld San Diego’s Emperor Roller Coaster.”

Outside of its parks, SeaWorld Conservation Fund supports penguin conservation by providing scientific and financial grants to third-party organizations. Some of them include:

  • The Southern African Coastal Bird Conservation Foundation (SANCCOB) for hand raising hundreds of abandoned African penguin chicks that would not have survived on their own.
  • Efforts to increase the population of Galapagos penguins, which are among the rarest penguins and are an endangered species, by providing high quality nests and working with Galapagos National Park to develop effective management strategies .
  • Help researchers to University of Washington Penguin Project is tracking 15 Magellanic penguins using geotagged beacons to collect data on penguin movements during the winter.
  • Supporting the Falkland Islands Penguin Census Project which conducted a comprehensive census of four penguin species which involved counting each colony where these species breed, soon after egg laying ceased.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company that delivers experiences that matter and inspires guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s leading zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, breeding and veterinary care. The Society collectively cares for what it considers to be one of the greatest zoological collections in the world and has helped advance animal care. The Society also rescues and rehabilitates sick, injured, orphaned or abandoned marine and land animals, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The marine world® The rescue team has helped over 39,000 animals in need over the company’s history. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands, including SeaWorld®Busch Gardens®Aquatic®Place Sesame® and rescue at sea®. Over its more than 60-year history, the company has built a diverse portfolio of 12 regional destinations and theme parks that are clustered in key markets across United States, many of which feature his one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The Company’s theme parks offer a diverse range of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal that provide memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

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SOURCE SeaWorld Parks & Recreation

Benjamin M. Yerger