20 January 2014

Penguin centenary at Edinburgh Zoo

UK – The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is celebrating an auspicious milestone this week: 25 January 2014 marks a century since the arrival of penguins at Edinburgh Zoo – the first ever penguins to be seen in Europe. Penguins have since become iconic for the Zoo, and the species was incorporated into the Zoo’s logo.

In 1914, six months after its grand opening, Edinburgh Zoo accepted a donation of six penguins from Salvesen Co. The four king penguins, one gentoo and one macaroni had made the momentous journey from South Georgia all the way to Leith Docks aboard the Salvesen ship Coronda. They were the first of many donations from Salvesen and would become the Zoo’s most iconic species.

Only five years later, Edinburgh Zoo successfully hatched a king penguin chick, the first ever penguin to be successfully bred in the Northern Hemisphere. This hatching was the first of many landmark successes for the Zoo, establishing RZSS’s global reputation and animal husbandry expertise. In 1935, the first macaroni chick in an animal collection hatched at the Zoo, followed two years later by the first gentoo chick.

Colin Oulton, Team Leader for Birds at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “To celebrate 100 years of caring for this inquisitive and curious species is a very special occasion. Historically, penguins have always been an important species for Edinburgh Zoo and RZSS.

“Our daily penguin parade, started in 1951, is now world famous and one of the only opportunities people have to get up close to penguins outside of the Southern Hemisphere. The world may have changed a lot over the past century, but penguins have always remained a firm favourite with our visitors.

Sir Nils Olav, the king penguin, is also world-renowned as the highest-ranking penguin in the world. The mascot for the Norwegian Guard, he has risen through the ranks from Lance Corporal all the way to Colonel-in-Chief. In 2008, he received a knighthood which was approved by the King of Norway and the Norwegian Guard visits him regularly.

“Last year, our penguins received a visit from BBC’s Spy in the Huddle. Several spy cams including a rockhopper cam and an egg cam were placed into Penguins Rock, and the penguins loved it! Naturally inquisitive, they were immediately interested in the new additions to their colony. One rockhopper even tried to groom rockhopper cam!”

The 100th anniversary of penguins ties in with Penguin Awareness Week at Edinburgh Zoo (20–25 January).

100 years of penguins at Edinburgh Zoo, 17 January 2013, Edinburgh Zoo

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