Hello everyone! I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you how magical it is to interact with a penguin. Seriously, it will change your life.
On Thursday, my boyfriend picked me up and told me we were going on a surprise trip. As we approached the Baltimore Zoo, I got very excited because I love seeing animals, and I knew this particular zoo had penguins—my favorite animal. HOWEVER, little did I know he had purchased tickets for an animal encounter with the penguins! When the time came to meet the penguins, I could not contain my excitement. Not only were we able to see penguins close up, but we were able to physically interact with them by petting them!
The Baltimore Zoo has the largest colony of African Penguins in North America, and members of the colony actively participate in breeding. This is important because the African Penguin is endangered with only about 20,000 left in the wild. The penguins we interacted with, however, were not a part of the large colony. They were a small group of animal ambassadors who are used to interacting with people. They travel to schools and events to educate people about the African Penguin and their status as endangered. The group was all female, and they were all very sweet. We had the opportunity to meet Lilly, Tetra, Dawn, Winnie, Peach and Eddie. Tetra seemed to take a particular liking towards me and ended up jumping up into my lap and settling in! One of the keepers kept picking her up and moving her, but she just kept hopping back into my lap! So, I was able to pet her quite a lot. I was shocked how soft penguins are! Lilly was my second favorite. She REALLY liked my shiny bracelet and kept trying to nip at it. This didn’t hurt since penguins don’t have teeth, but it would surprise me! She liked the shininess so much because it reminded her of fish scales flashing in the water! My boyfriend took a liking to Dawn, who liked to nip!
Not only was this experience a dream come true for me, but I also learned a lot about penguins I had never known before! Like, for instance, it is relatively easy for a keeper to know what is going on with a particular penguin based on their eating habits. If they don’t eat for 3 or more days, they may be sick. If they start eating like a bottomless pit, they are about to molt (shed their feathers). When a penguin molts, they loose the waterproofing in their feathers. Because of this, they cannot get in the water to hunt fish, so they fatten up enough to stay on land for two weeks until their new feathers come in. Lilly was in the middle of molting, so she was a bit chubby!
In short, I 10/10 recommend doing an animal encounter, even if it’s not with a penguin. It is a bit pricey, but I think it was worth every single cent. I will remember it for a lifetime.