Byculla zoo authorities say the Humboldt penguins are too young for sexual activity as they are still going through puberty
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray threw open the penguin enclosure for the public on March 17, 2017. File pic
Despite their ongoing mating season, Donald and Daisy and Olive and Popeye aren't nuzzling to produce a nestling. And the reason for that is the penguins, aged between 2.5 and three years, are still going through puberty.
"The penguins are vocalising with each other, which is a sign of impending mating. But as of now, they haven't had intercourse yet. It might be because they are too young for sexual activity, since they are going through puberty," Sanjay Tripathi, zoo director, told mid-day.
Tripathi clarified that the zoo had never said that the penguins would certainly mate this season. "What we said was that they were showing signs of sexual engagement. Their sexual activity starts after they are three years old. So, these ones here, they are still developing."
"We have made requisite arrangements to provide them the comfort to get closer, as they are extremely shy animals. But it might take a few months more for them to be fully developed," he added.
The caretakers have built a coop within the enclosure to allow them to canoodle, away from prying eyes.
"While feeding the penguins, the caretakers feed them near their nest so that they get used to the area and get comfortable with the place if they decide to mate," said a caretaker. Dr Madhumita Kale, the medical in-charge of the penguins remained unavailable for comment despite repeated calls.
Come June, visitors at the zoo can walk into a brand-new cafeteria, built at a cost of around Rs 1.25 crore, inside the penguin exhibit. It will seat more than 200 visitors at a time. "The 535 sq m cafeteria will have 35 benches that can each seat five to six people. It has been designed with zebra, leopard and tiger prints," said Tripathi.
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