Four vets to monitor Humboldt penguins 24x7 in Byculla zoo

The team of doctors will attend to every aspect of the penguins’ care, including feeding and public exposure

The seven Humboldt penguins at Byculla zoo, who are set to meet their first visitors this evening, will have four veterinarians on call round the clock. The doctors will closely monitor every aspect of the flippers' care -- from feeding to public exposure.

The team comprises veterinarians Dr Madhumita Kale, Dr Neha Shah, Dr Ganesh Atole and Dr Govind Mangnale. The penguins' public viewing begins tomorrow after inauguration of their enclosure this evening.

Dr Kale, head of the team of veterinarians, said the penguins are being fed a diet of Bombay duck, mackerel, eel and ladyfish. "We feed them twice a day -- in the morning and evening. Every penguin eats around 700-800 gm of fish. The fish is stored at –20°C and brought to room temperature at the time of feeding. We take the utmost care when it comes to their food. The fish is cleaned thoroughly. In two weeks or a month, we will send the fish used for feeding for testing at the Bombay Veterinary College."

Dr Madhumita Kale

While Dr Kale and Dr Shah will be on call during the day, Dr Atole and Dr Mangnale will look after the bunch at night.

The penguins -- Bubble, Olive, Flipper, Daisy, Popeye, Donald and Molt are 65-70 cm tall and weigh 4-6 kg. They have acclimatised well to their new 1,800-sqft home, where they were moved from a 250-sqft quarantine enclosure on March 6. They have been given a ball to play with in the water. "If they get bored, then the doctors will take the initiative and play with them," said Dr Kale.

They were moved from a 250-sqft quarantine enclosure to their 1,800-sqft permanent home on March 6

To get the penguins to adapt themselves to the sight of a large number of visitors, the authorities introduced them to people in small batches over time. "They were not used to seeing so many people at a time. We increased the number of people each day and the penguins have adapted well. There are showing no sign of stress or panic,” said Dr Kale.

Visitors to the enclosure will not be allowed to take photographs with camera flash. "When a number of camera flashes go off at a time, the penguins may experience stress. Also, visitors will not be allowed to touch the glass panels of the enclosure," said Dr Kale. Besides, visitors will be allowed into the enclosure in small batches.

Home, sweet home

>> The penguin enclosure comprises a swanky two-storeyed, high-tech building with an interpretation centre, an auditorium, a cafeteria.

>> The temperature will be kept at 13-14°C. 

>> A TV screen will run films and cartoons on penguins all day long.

>> Water fountains have been constructed outside the building to add to its aesthetics.

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