Penguin Love: It’s the season of romance for penguins at Utah aquarium

Mar 19, 2024, 6:42 PM | Updated: 11:25 pm

DRAPER — The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is launching a new educational series, involving gentoo penguins. And it’s making a splash.

It’s breeding season for the 20 gentoo penguins who live at the aquarium. And as their keepers explain to KSL TV, many of the animals will move on from their chosen mate after a certain amount of time.

“Gentoos are what’s called sub-antarctic penguins,” Karli Healy, a penguin keeper at the aquarium said. “And basically that means that they come from islands kind of surrounding Antarctica and then the Antarctic Peninsula. But they’re not on the main island of Antarctica.”

Healy, who has worked with penguins for 10 years, said the gentoos are known for their orange beaks and feet and their long tails.

Currently, the aguarium has 11 males and nine females.

“So it’s not exactly even,” Healy said.

Gentoo penguins seeking attention

And with mating season running February through March, Healy said the animals are seeking attention right now.

“We just put the rocks in like the main part of the habitat,” Healy said. “And then it’s the penguins’ jobs to pick the individual pebbles that they want to choose which nest space they want and they will go through and they’ll pick up which pebbles they want and take it over to their chosen nest spot and they will put them on the ground, and both male and female will pick pebbles.”

Healy said the gentoos will share their nest with their special someone for several months. However, that can change anytime throughout this season or year to year.

“One of the biggest behaviors that we see as a courtship behavior is a bow,” she said. “So both penguins will bow, like move their beak towards the ground. They’ll open their beak and make a very slight, like hissing noise.”

Cold dating tactics?

Healy said that the penguins typically have good eyesight. They know what they’re choosing, and sometimes it’s not monogamy.

“It’s like, you’re my buddy, I’ve picked you for the season,” Healy said. “But that doesn’t mean that while you’re sitting on the nest and you’re distracted, I might go have fun some fun and then I’ll come back to you.”

These kinds of penguins are used to winter conditions. And as such, their dating tactics can be cold.

“We have also seen Poppy and Roto in the same nest where Ava has been in the past,” Healy said. “So we don’t know if she’s going to get kicked out.”

Healy said a couple that has become fan favorites is Coco and Gossmer.

“They are the only couple that we have had that has stayed together since we very first got them,” she said.

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Penguin Love: It’s the season of romance for penguins at Utah aquarium