The Penguins of Grytviken come to Hull’s Kingdom of Ice
PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 April 2014
Hull says hello to its newest residents
With their own swimming pool, private beach, waterfall, bubble machine and spacious balcony overlooking the River Humber, is it any wonder that The Deep’s latest recruits are already being referred to as VIPs (that’s Very Important Penguins).
The gentoos (four males and one female, with five more to follow soon) are part of a new £750,000 exhibit – The Penguins of Grytviken – in the Hull aquarium’s Kingdom of Ice.
Visitors now have fantastic views of the small colony of penguins across three floors, both underwater and on land, after they were brought in to raise awareness of the threats posed to their natural habitat by climate change and ocean acidification.
Their home town of Grytviken is an abandoned whaling port in South Georgia, which was taken over by their gentoo ancestors in the late 1960s following the demise of the whaling industry, when this and many other sites were left to decay.
Colin Brown, chief executive of The Deep, said: ‘We have been working on this exhibit for quite some time, but the final product has definitely been worth the wait. It tells visitors about the threats penguins face whilst also taking into account Hull’s maritime history.
‘It is without a doubt one of the best indoor enclosures in the UK and has been built with the penguins’ comfort in mind. Not only do they have a fantastic space to live in, but our team has spent a great deal of time exploring enrichment activities for them as well so they can thoroughly enjoy living here.’
The Hull team has worked closely with experts from Moody Gardens in Texas, Edinburgh Zoo, Flamingo Land, Harewood House and Sewerby Hall to ensure the aquarium’s new brood feels right at home.
To this end, the gentoos’ home is kept at a cool 10 degrees and is fitted with a lighting system that mimics the number of daylight hours they would typically enjoy at home.
The Deep’s penguin exhibit is helping to raise funds for field conservation projects across the world through Project Penguin (thedeep.co.uk/project-penguin). It’s being helped in its quest by Heron Foods which is collecting money in 67 stores across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
The first tranche of much-needed money will go to the Galapagos Conservation Trust, a well-respected group set up to monitor the Galapagos penguin – one of the most endangered species in the world today.