Borough mayor Carole Bower cut the ribbon on the new penguin enclosure at the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary today.
She is pictured with ‘Eco-Warriors’ from Hunstanton Primary School, who were present at the opening, her husband Simon and Sea Life Centre general manager, Nigel Crossdale – plus, of course, the Humboldt penguins relaxing in their new enclosure. The penguin enclosure has undergone a £75,000 refit over the winter, creating a new enlarged home for the resident colony and for new penguin arrivals from Sea Life centres across Europe. The enclosure features a deep-dive-pool, waterfall and additional nest boxes to support the larger colony and encourage breeding behaviour.
Mr Croasdale said: “We are so excited to be at this stage and be able to encourage guests to learn about the threats Humboldt Penguins face in the wild. The new enclosure will offer our visitors the opportunity to get really close to these amazing birds and appreciate their individual personalities. Our vision is for people to immerse themselves in their new home and be truly captivated by them.”
The new colony is made up of the original 10 Humboldt Penguins from Hunstanton, including ‘Fluffy McFluffy Face’ who reached national recognition last year as the sanctuary’s first successful penguin chick. Birds arrived from Holland, Belgium and Scarborough to boost the size of the colony to more than 20 birds.
Humboldt penguins are native to the Pacific coasts of South America, where their numbers have declined rapidly as a result of habitat loss, industrial development, commercial guano removal and the El Nino effect. This species of penguin has been classified as vulnerable since the year 2000 and it is thought there are fewer than 32,000 left in the wild.