Monday, June 10, 2013

Partying with a Penguin

We celebrated the kiddos' birthdays a little early yesterday with a special Penguin Encounter at Mystic Aquarium. We'd wanted to do this for years, since the kids were but toddlers and we could watch others up close and personal with the penguins from outside the Discovery Room.  Bud had been smiling for two days in anticipation; Sis, who prefers bunnies, was also excited about meeting a penguin.

Yesterday, it was our turn.  We sanitized our hands and disinfected our shoes and then took or places inside.    We were introduced to our penguin, Yellow Blue, a 17 year-old female African penguin.  She was relatively shy and didn't come towards us much.  Though, she did try to hide behind my skirts and pecked at the folds of it.  We knew to only touch her back, which was very soft; she was also very firm and strong--all 6 lbs of her (a lot like our cat Hermione in size, as well as color.)  While she wandered around, her handler told us all about penguins, their nesting habits, their environmental adaptations (like the bodily-temperature-controlling featherless eye-patches), and their training (they are taught certain behaviors to help with their own medical care), plus how they trained as penguin handlers.

We each also got a chance to sit next to the penguin and listen to her chest with a stethoscope, though only Sis heard anything.  She concentrated so hard, was so serious, as she examined Yellow Blue and petted her back and wing.  Bud grinned and glowed the entire time.  And Mama was so gentle and friendly, like she is with the cats.

It was a delightful hour of penguin-ness.  And a great way to celebrate two special kids.

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