Canadian Zoo Brings its Penguins Indoors, as the Weather is Too Cold Even for Them

Avatar Amanda Froelich | January 3, 2018

You know it’s cold outside when temperatures are too frigid even for penguins. Yet, this is exactly what has occurred in Alberta, Canada.

The Globe and Mail reports that because temperatures plummeted below -28 C (-40 C with wind chill), king penguins at the Calgary Zoo have been brought in from their outdoor enclosure for several days. Reportedly, zookeepers follow a guideline that if temperatures fall below -25 C, it’s best to keep the flightless birds indoors.

Said zoo curator Malu Celli, “We just don’t want to expose them to too much. To keep them safe, we decided to pick a limit to let them out.” Celli says that the zoo has 51 penguins in its flock which represent several species from diverse habitats.


King penguins are found in the subantarctic region. As a result, says Celli, they are accustomed to the chilly weather. However, because they live in milder climates than their cousins, the emperor penguins, they are less suited for drastically cold weather.

Apparently, the king penguins are forced to retreat indoors nearly every winter. “It’s not necessarily that it’s too cold for them,” said Celli. “I believe that physiologically, they can withstand colder weather than what we have here, but these are not wild birds.”

The zoo curator added that the tuxedoed birds would “happily go outside if they could,” but with one chick in the flock still maturing, it’s better to be on the safe side.

“It’s kind of like you can bundle up your kid, but then there’s a point you’re going to say, ‘I know you’re good, but I’d rather you stay inside now.’”

To keep all of the animals who live in outdoor enclosures warm, zookeepers have made adjustments to many of the exhibits. Humans are still welcome to visit and check out the park’s attractions. “If you are brave and you come to the zoo, you’re pretty much going to get the zoo all to yourself,” said Celli.

Credit: Oceanwide Expeditions

Do animals belong in zoos at all?

While the Calgary Zoo’s foresight is commendable, one can’t help but ask, “should animals be in zoos at all?” The question is controversial, granted, but it is imperative to ask. This is because, it is the animals who, ultimately, suffer.

Following are 3 reasons animals belong in the wild — not zoos:

  1. Zoos cannot provide an adequate space
    In the wild, an animal is free to explore and live as they please. But in captivity, they have a meager parcel of land to roam. In fact, tigers and lions have about 18,000 times less space in zoos than they do in the wild. Polar bears have approximately 1,000,000 times less space. [2]
  2. Animals suffer in zoos
    According to a government-funded study in the UK, 54 percent of the elephants showed behavioral problems during the daytime. And, elephants aren’t the only animals which show symptoms of “zoochosis.”
    The condition is prevalent in a range of animals forced to live in captivity and often results in them pacing, rocking back and forth, or acting out aggressively. They behave this way because the superficial conditions around them do not support their mental, emotional, or physical well-being.
  3. Animals die prematurely in zoos
    Wild beasts tend to die earlier in captivity than they do in the wild. The African elephant, for instance, is estimated to live three times as long in the wild than those kept in zoos. Even Asian elephants that work in timber camps live longer than those which are born and raised in zoos. [5]
    As Captive Animals reports, 40 percent of lion cubs die before one month of age whereas, in the wild, 30 percent of cubs die before they are six months old. [6]

If you are interested in learning more about the abhorrent conditions of zoos, we suggest you visit the Captive Animals website. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

Source: Captive Animals, The Globe and Mail

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