The greater spotted penguin


A DECREASE in employee productivity across the country last week was being blamed on the snow. But the real culprit may have been the hugely popular, and for some distracting, penguin cam at Dublin Zoo.

According to zoo staff, thousands of people have been logging on every day to check out the activity in the penguin enclosure – sponsored by a well- known penguin-related biscuit – where the zoo’s collection of 14 penguins can be seen cavorting cutely in the snow.

Suzanne O’Donovan, marketing executive at the zoo said that on an average day around 300 people visit the penguin cam.

“Last Wednesday we registered 3,000 visitors. There has been an incredible amount of interest from people who want to see penguins in a snowy environment,” she said.

While more often associated with Antarctic landscapes, the Dublin Zoo 14 are in fact Humboldt penguins, a breed that hails from the milder climes of the Western coast of South America. Zookeeper Peter Phillips said that while they are adaptable to cold water, the snow actually causes the penguins quite a bit of anxiety.

“Rather than being at home in the snow as some might imagine, they were actually quite nervous about it,” he said. “They were spending more time in their burrows and behaving more cautiously at feeding time.” (Feeding time at 2.30pm is peak viewing time for Dublin Zoo penguin addicts.) The nerves haven’t affected their appetites though. Keen penguin watchers will be interested to hear that their daily intake is usually eight small fish or sprats, but during the cold spell they have been having nearly double that amount.

Among the penguins in the enclosure is Kelli, the female bird who was nabbed and then recovered earlier this year. “She settled back in immediately. She’s spending a lot of time in the burrow at the moment with her mate, Mick,” said Phillips. He can tell the penguins apart by the markings on their breasts but says visitors to the penguin cam will find it impossible to tell the birds apart.

Interest in the penguin cam at Edinburgh Zoo also increased during the recent snowy conditions. Their Emperor and Gentoo penguins became Internet superstars with “twitchers” all over the world tuning in to watch the daily penguin parade which includes a King Penguin with a knighthood.

We may not have any kings at Dublin Zoo but tweeters have also taken our nervous Humboldts to their hearts. “Dublin Zoo’s penguin cam might be the best thing in the whole world,” proclaimed tweeter buyandselldotie last week.

See the Dublin Zoo penguin cam at