When you visit the Penguin Point exhibit you’ll notice a new addition to the group. There are now seven penguins! Another young female has just arrived and is settling in well with the others.
The African penguins are featured at the Vancouver Aquarium as ambassadors of their species to share their story of survival on the southern African coast, their natural home.
The Aquarium’s marine mammal curator Brian Sheehan says it’s been a smooth transition for the birds, and now the focus will be on establishing relationships of trust with them.
While some of the older penguins have a little basic training under their belts, er… feathers, Brian and his staff will start from square one with the rest.
If you’ve come to the Aquarium to visit the penguins already, you may have noticed the trainers spending time with them and giving them a friendly scratch. This “positive reinforcement” plays a big role in establishing a good relationship with them, allowing the trainers to get up close and develop a bond based on mutual trust – an element that’s paramount in training.
Some of you may wonder how trainers of whales and dolphins can switch to training penguins. Many of the Aquarium trainers already have previous experience working with penguins at other facilities, and the basic philosophies and techniques used to train whales and dolphins can be used to train other animals. The basics of animal training are the same (even for your dog): food and other positive reinforcement, understanding the species, patience and ample respect for the individual you’re training.
See how all the penguins are settling down in their new home on the 24-hour Penguin Cam.
You can also help name the penguins, including the seventh one, after B.C.’s cities, towns and neighbourhoods. June 17th is the deadline to submit your entry along with pictures, videos or messages. Your submission will be entered in a draw for a behind-the-scenes VIP penguin experience.
We’ll see you around at Penguin Point!