The penguin molt

by Amanda Mayberry, Zookeeper

(left: Lacey, Kat, and Amanda change a band, right: all four birds in exhibit)
Today we had to change the Magellanic penguins hard plastic bands to softer bands called "soft bands." The soft bands expand as the birds swell during their pre-molt gorge. In the wild, penguins will gorge, or eat as much as they can prior to molting. During molt they are uncomfortable in the water and are unable to eat for about two weeks. This is the time it takes to exchange their old feathers for new ones. They burn the fat they have gorged during that period and are fit and ready to go once all their new feathers have come in. Here at the Zoo they will be offered food during molt but may not eat. They eat anywhere from 4-6 fish per day the rest of the year, but right now, during the molt, they are eating 6-12 fish a day! One of our males, Pepper, eats 12 fish a day already and has had a two-week jump on the others. Come out and see if you can spot his big belly.
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