A team of experts look after the daily welfare of our Gentoo penguins. Our penguins are hand fed two or three times a day and enjoy a diet of small fish including blue whiting, capelin and herring.
Like all birds, penguins moult once a year, but are different from other birds as they lose all their feathers very quickly, rather than just a few at a time. It can often look like a pillow has exploded because their feathers come out so fast, but they need to do this to remain waterproof. Bald patches and missing feathers would let in water meaning they would get cold. Before Gentoos start their moult, they eat more food and put on weight. They then stay on dry land and live off their fat reserves whilst they wait for their old feathers to drop out and new ones push through.
It is important that the penguin enclosure is kept clean, as with any of our other exhibits. Penguins produce a lot of waste, which is bright yellow! This has to be cleaned off their rocks every day and so you may well see members of staff in there scrubbing and hosing down the exhibit.
Penguins love to play and believe it or not enjoy nothing more than chasing bubbles and reflected light as well as playing with toys and standing under water sprinklers. Like with all other animals at The Deep, providing enrichment for the penguins is part of The Deep's everyday work and helps keep the animals healthy. By tuning into their natural behaviours, the keepers can make sure their physical and mental needs are being met. You will be able to watch some of these enrichment activities throughout the day when you visit.
Gentoo penguins live in colder climates in the wild, so their home at The Deep is kept at a chilly 10 degrees C.