Kings of Cool
February 17, 2010
Four new king penguins have added a splash of royalty to the WCS Central Park Zoo’s famous Penguin House, where they share their home with gentoos and chinstraps. These cold-weather birds live in the renovated exhibit, “Polar Seabirds: Life on the Edge of the World.”
The exhibit features new graphics and videos of penguins in their Antarctic habitat, and the pool’s new lighting provides a sharper view of the birds.
Though king penguins have the same tuxedo-plumage as gentoos and chinstraps, they stand out because of the orange feathers at their neck and their larger size. Kings stand about three feet tall, while gentoos and chinstraps are closer to two feet tall.
All four of the new king penguins are male. Their names are Lyle, Slappy, Will, and Robert. Zookeepers say they are busy diving into their pool and exploring their rocky beach habitat.
Native to Antarctica and the nearby Falkland Islands, king penguins are the second-largest and second-deepest-diving penguin species, surpassed only by their close relative, the emperor penguins.
The Central Park Zoo has over 60 penguins of the gentoo, chinstrap and king species. While these types of penguins are not endangered, their habitats face serious environmental threats. Overfishing in the oceans where these animals live deplete their food supply, and their coastal habitat is being degraded. WCS scientists are looking at the effects of climate change on penguin populations and working around the globe to address marine conservation issues.