Summer School Starts for Penguin Chicks

Folly Farm Summer Penguinship Program proving to be successful.

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Cogswath (left) and Thumper (right)

Source: The Penguin Mercury, UK

WHALES, United Kingdom – School is not out for the summer for these little penguin chicks, whose humans have enlisted in a Summer Penguinship at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo.  The summer session started earlier this week and is meant to teach young penguins key penguin survival skills.

Between the ages of eight and twelve weeks, young penguins are expected to go out on their own without their parents and learn to fend for themselves.  This can be a challenging and scary time for the youngsters, and their vulnerability can open them up to a lot of scary situations.  The Folly Farm Penguinship Program is meant to teach the penguins how to fend for themselves and eat independently.  The program is 16 to 20 weeks long, and following graduation the penguin chicks are then able to join the rest of their penguin flock into adulthood.

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Catrin Thomas (left) and Caroline Davies (right)

Catrin Thomas, along with her colleague Caroline Davies, has been a penguin keeper at Folly Farm since May 2013 when the penguins arrived.

 “Watching the penguins develop in through the penguinship is an amazing experience.  The program teaches them how to eat and hunt for prey, as well as essential swimming and life skills that all penguins need to know. “

The penguin graduation ceremony is one of the most exciting events at Folly Farm all year, and according to sources penguins can be seen slowly walking together from the edge of the enclosure into the pool, where they are met by the other 30 penguins in the community.  Catrin added:

“Last year, Caroline and I were calling them, and they walked down slowly huddled together. Some were more nervous than others and went back to their old nest, but then they saw the older penguins and you could see the excitement. The other penguins are very welcoming and it is so much nicer for them to be part of a colony.”

Folly Farm’s Penguinship Program currently has 35 penguins, including the five new chicks. Holly, 22, is the eldest penguin in the community, followed by her husband of 20 years, Harry.  The Folly Farm Penguinship Program has been successfully running for about five years now, and started when Holly saw so many of her young penguins struggling to understand how to become independent penguins.  She was quoted as saying “I struggled when I was a chick.  I struggled with things I shouldn’t have had to struggle with.  These chicks aren’t always ready, and this program is what’s going to prepare them for the real world.”

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