Say hello to the newest arrivals at Blackpool Zoo!
Five penguins have migrated west from Europe in time for winter and are now settling in to their new home in the resort.
The female Magellanic penguins made the 24-hour journey from Germany, via Italy, to Lancashire, to stop the males already living at the zoo getting lonely.
Blackpool Zoo is the only one in the UK where the South African species is kept, with 20 of the penguins now taking up residence in the resort. They include a four-month-old chick that hatched earlier this year.
A specialist animal transportation vehicle was used to ensure the five new arrivals travelled in style at a constant temperature of 10 degrees, with experts checking on their progress every few hours.
After arriving at Blackpool Zoo they were transferred into the bird nursery for final health checks before moving into an introduction area to meet their new pool mates. They are now fully integrated into the group.
Luke Forster, who heads up Blackpool Zoo’s bird department, said: “Blackpool is the only zoo in the UK to house this magnificent species after they arrived in 2009.
“We have enjoyed huge breeding success and as a result our group had more males than females.
“This species is near threatened in the wild so we spoke to the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) as they manage a breeding programme.
“Penguins are generally monogamous and our younger males didn’t have partners, so now they have the chance to couple up!
“The five females were selected by experts to join our bachelor boys and we have already seen promising signs of success.
“Some of the boys are now taking up residence in the nest boxes and calling to the females, which is great.
“The new arrivals are aged between two and three, and while they won’t be mature enough to mate for another few years, it is good to let them settle in and form their pairs.
“Our flock is extremely popular with visitors and the new girls are sure to be a hit.”
Magellanic penguins have short, wedge shaped tails and long narrow wings that they use like paddles when they are swimming. They can reach speeds in excess of 15mph in the water.