By Kristina Urquhart
What is black and white and cute all over? If you guessed the seven African penguins at Vancouver Aquarium’s new Penguin Point exhibit, you’re right. Watch these entertaining birds strut their stuff on rocks modelled after Boulders Beach, their native habitat in South Africa. And if you see these flightless birds getting their trademark blush, know it’s not because they can’t fly: when African penguins are too hot, blood rushes to their faces to be cooled. As for swimming, the pocket-sized penguins—only 70 cm (27 in) tall—have nothing to be embarrassed about, gliding up to an impressive 16 km (10 mi) per hour underwater.
On vacation from their home at the New England Aquarium, these little cuties have a big role during their two-year stint in Vancouver. They’re part of the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, helping to raise awareness about the endangered African penguin colonies in South Africa and Namibia, whose anchovy and sardine supply is threatened by overfishing.
If your penchant for penguins still isn’t satisfied, see these amusing avians ham it up 24/7 on the Penguin Cam at www.vanaqua.org.