A BABY penguin was born in Košice Zoo on June 6, the first ever. It weighed 78 grams at birth. The zoo became home to 12 penguins in 2008 but the original flock has had a series of health problems and tragic accidents that culminated in May when the former head of the zoo forged an autopsy report and accused a group of young visitors of having killed one of the three remaining penguins. A subsequent police investigation found no external marks on the dead penguin and concluded that the penguin probably died from eating a toad. After the scandal hit the media the zoo’s director, Štefan Kollár, resigned and Erich Kočner became the new director, the ČTK newswire wrote.
The birth of the young penguin is the first happy news after a long series of mishaps. The infant Humboldt penguin already weighs 1,130 grams and is tended for by its parents and by caretaker Erika Karafová and zoologist Jozef Lenard. At this point it is impossible to tell the gender of the infant as it is too risky to try to separate it from its parents. Lenard told the TASR newswire that the baby penguin would be out of danger once it starts to eat independently and survives its first winter.
Zoo visitors can help the penguins by not disturbing them too much and definitely by not feeding them. Penguins are sensitive animals and although they are able to adjust to living close to humans, they dislike and avoid noise and turbulent behaviour. Lenard said any attempts to feed them comes close to attempts to kill them because they are fed with just one species of herring and their hygienic requirements for the fish are higher than those in a luxury restaurant. Penguins are also prone to various kinds of infections and food poisoning and that is why it is very demanding to keep penguins in zoos, out of their natural habitat, said Lenard.
The zoo complex in Kavečany will also offer a daily summer camp for children each week beginning from July 12. And as part of a project called Camping in the Zoo on August 23 and 27 an event will take place for children and their parents called A Night at the Zoo. Participants will be able to watch the nightlife of animals, their routine in going to sleep, and the morning feeding activities. Accompanying events include observing the night sky, experiential activities, competitions, and overnight sleeping in tents. Zoo representatives said that in these ways children can build a bond with zoo animals and better understand their needs, lives and importance in the natural global environment.
12. Jul 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská