Today we celebrate our adorable tuxedo-clad birds. Penguins get their special day every year on Penguin Awareness Day, on January 20 – not to be confused with World Penguin Day or African Penguin Awareness Day. There are six species of penguins here at Newport Aquarium. You might be surprised to hear that not all penguins love the snow and cold. In fact, about two-thirds of penguins are warm-weather birds. When you visit Newport Aquarium, you can see the cold-weather penguins at Penguin Palooza. Kings, Gentoo, Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper and Chinstrap all love the snow. Another highlight of a visit to Newport Aquarium is the Penguin Parade. Newport Aquarium’s ambassador animals, African penguins, parade inside our front lobby in the colder months, and outside the aquarium during warmer summer months.
African penguins enjoy warmer temperatures than their cold weather cousins. Here at Newport Aquarium, they have a special home “backstage.”
Our Chief Conservation Officer, Ric Urban, hand-fed many of the African penguins as chicks, and when you see him interact with them, you can tell how close their bond is. Guests are invited to purchase a one-of-a-kind hands-on experience with these amazing birds through a Penguin Encounter. An Animal Experience Expert will talk to you about the penguins while you visit the Penguin House. You get to sit on a bench, and the penguins can waddle right up to you. You’re allowed to take pictures, and maybe even touch one. A portion of the sales for Penguin Encounters is donated to the WAVE Foundation for penguin conservation programs.
Another one-of-a-kind opportunity is to purchase original penguin artwork from our in-house Picassos – our African penguins created masterpieces that you can order online or buy in Newport Aquarium’s gift shop. Speckles, Paula, Red Pepper, Green Bean, Simon, Sandy, Randi, Blueberry have all taken part in the penguin pitter platter spatter. Each original penguin art comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, an information sheet about the artists and a color photo of the artists in action! Painting is a form of enrichment for our penguins. Enrichment is about providing animals with stimulating and challenging environments, objects and activities. It aims to enhance their activity and provides mental stimulation for the penguins. Who wouldn’t have fun stomping and splattering in paint?!
So, the next time you’re visiting Newport Aquarium, be sure to stop by and say ‘hi’ to these incredible birds – one of the most diverse collections of penguins in the country.