A colony of fairy penguins, have moved into a brand new state-of-the-art enclosure at Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park, opening on Saturday, May 26.
Twenty fairy penguins have relocated from Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Australia to Weymouth in Dorset, due to the closure of the Manly Sanctuary in February. This is an exciting opportunity for Weymouth as these fairy penguins are the only colony in Europe.
Fairy penguins (also known as little blue penguins) are the world’s smallest penguin measuring just over 25cm tall and they weigh around 1 kg. The penguins are native to New Zealand and Southern Australia, but Weymouth was chosen as their new home due to the seaside town’s average summer and winter temperatures being very similar to those experienced by the penguins in their natural habitat.
The park has invested in excess of £100,000 into the new enclosure which will give visitors the opportunity to get closer to the penguins than ever before and interact with them in a whole new way. An American style boardwalk is being built to allow visitors to take a stroll through the enclosure and feel like part of the colony.
In years to come, Weymouth SEA LIFE plans to establish a breeding programme which will create a sustainable population of fairy penguins in Europe.
Tamsin Mutton-Mcknight, general manager of Weymouth SEA LIFE, said: “We are thrilled and honoured to have been given this fantastic opportunity to give a home to the first colony of fairy penguins in Europe. This is a huge milestone for Weymouth SEA LIFE and we are extremely grateful for the loyal support which we have received over our 35 years of operation.
“Our new enclosure will put Weymouth on the map by educating the country about this species of penguin, while strengthening our links with other zoos and aquariums through the breeding programme we plan to create.
“We are looking forward to introducing our new residents to our loyal guests and welcoming new visitors from across the country once the new enclosure has opened. We will be sharing updates of our new residents on our social media channels, so make sure you follow us to keep up-to-date with the opening.”
Get to know more about Weymouth’s newest residents with these fun facts:
• They are the only penguins in the world that can raise more than one set of chicks per year
• They keep their feathers waterproof by rubbing oil that comes from a gland on their tail, all over their bodies
• They moult their feathers once a year which means that they can’t go swimming for a couple of weeks as they won’t be able to stay warm in the water
• Adult birds come ashore between May and June to prepare nests. They may waddle up to 1.5 km from the sea, and climb 300m to find the perfect nest site
• Traditional nests are in underground burrows, under vegetation, in crevices, between rocks or in caves
• Maremma sheepdogs have been used to protect fairy penguin colonies against foxes and other predators. This also inspired the plot of the Australian film ‘Oddball’
Weymouth SEA LIFE is the home to more than 1,000 creatures with 13 different zones containing penguins, sharks, turtles and stingrays. Guests are invited to learn all about these creatures which live in and around the sea and how we can work together to protect them from harm. Caribbean Cove is Dorset’s largest outdoor adventure playground and can offer hours of entertainment along with the park’s Splash Zone. Daily talks and feeding demonstrations are also held at the park to further educate guests about the different species which are present at Weymouth.
The new enclosure will be open to the public on Saturday, May 26. Please visit www.visitsealife.com/weymouth for more information.