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Waddle lot of fun for penguin awareness day

P-p-p-pick up a happy pill.

P-p-p-pick up a happy pill.

Did you know penguins can have a fear of water? And that the species used to be able to fly?

There’s much more to these lovable fellows than just a tuxedo-like coat and unique mating habits.

Bird keepers at Blackpool Zoo shared their favourite penguin facts to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day on Monday.

Did you know they swallow stones to help weigh them down when they’re diving for fish?

But they weren’t always just water birds, in fact these feathered friends used to be able to fly, and have evolved to become super swimmers.

John Paul Houston, head of birds at Blackpool Zoo, said: “From their ancient roots in pre-historic times to the fact that the chicks can actually suffer from hydrophobia, there is more to penguins than a funny waddle.

“We have pulled together some of the most interesting facts about penguins to give people the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating species.”

The attraction off East Park Drive is home to 13 Magellanic Penguins, named after Ferdinand Magellan who first spotted them in 1520 and who also gave his name to the Straits of Magellan at the southern tip of South Africa where the species hail from.

It was more than 7,000 miles away that the first species of penguin was found though, in New Zealand – not the cold climes they’re usually associated with.

The species has had time to travel, given ancient fossils of them date back 61 million years, making them older than some of the best-known fossil mammals.

But of the 17 species of penguin, 13 are now either threatened, endangered or on the brink of extinction.

For the species to last so long male penguins have a novel way to woo potential partners – it seems we humans are not the only ones to be keen for a large rock as part of a relationship proposal.

Male Gentoo penguins seek out the smoothest, most perfect rock to woo mates with, presenting it to be placed in a female’s nest, if the rock and its finder are deemed worthy enough.

Those romantic rocks are not to be confused with the stones penguins swallow to help them to grind and digest their food and give them extra weight in order to dive deeper.

Often chicks can have a fear of water though.

Hydrophobia can grip the chicks meaning they have to be carefully coaxed into getting their little webbed feet wet for the first time.

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