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. Newport Aquarium is home to five species of cold-weather penguins which live in Penguin Palooza. Kings, Gentoo, Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper and Chinstrap all love the snow. Guests can see these penguins swimming in Penguin Palooza and can get up close to watch their swift underwater movements as they glide right past the viewing window.
Guests can watch penguins swimming underwater in Penguin Palooza.
Another highlight of a visit to Newport Aquarium is the Penguin Sunrise. Take a seat and learn all about our cold weather penguin habitat housing several different penguin species.
Our warm-weather penguins, the African penguins are ambassadors for their species. African penguins are an endangered species. There has been a steady decline of the African penguins since the late 1950s when there were around 300,000 individuals in South Africa. In 2001, there were over 100,000 individuals and recently it has been estimated that there are less than 50,000 penguins left in their range country. Here at Newport Aquarium, guests have the opportunity to meet this species behind the scenes.
Many of our African penguins were hand-raised as chicks. Guests are invited to purchase a one-of-a-kind experience with these amazing birds through a Penguin Encounter. An Animal Experience Specialist shares an important conservation message about these birds in the Penguin House. Guests sit on a bench, and the penguins can waddle right up to you. You’re allowed to take pictures, and may even get to 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 create masterpieces that can be ordered online or bought in Newport Aquarium’s gift shop. Speckles, Paula, Red Pepper, Green Bean, 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.