Penguins at the zoo staying inside this winter


The penguins at the Scovill Zoo are just like most people. They're spending this winter indoors. The humboldt penguins arrived in Decatur late last year and Thursday WAND checked back in with the birds to see how they're battling their first winter in Central Illinois.

"I've been having conversations with people and they're like, 'Oh, I bet your penguins are loving this weather,' described Mary Barnes Penguin Keeper at the zoo. "And I'm like, 'Well, not really.'"

That's because the penguins are from warmer climates like Peru and Chile.

"There's a colder current that runs through the water so they're used to cold water but the temperatures we're experiencing now are just a bit colder than they're used to," Barnes explained.

WAND's Elise Menaker even asked the birds herself, "How do you guys feel about the cold?... You strongly dislike it... Me, too."

Barnes said some of the birds might not even know what snow is.

"They're all inside," she said. "We tried to get them out into the snow a little bit. They all ran back inside. They hate snow," Barnes said with a laugh.

But the wolves love it.

"They have the nice winter fur that helps keep them warm," explained Zoo Keeper Heather Purdeu. "A lot of times in the winter, during the day, a lot of times you'll just see them kind of rolled up on the snow. They don't seem to be bothered by it at all."

And believe it or not, neither are the camels.

"They have the thick winter fur," Purdeu said. "They have kind of the larger feet that helps in the wild walk through the sand but it kind of helps them with the snow, too."

But it's the penguins that are more like people.

"I think they're ready for spring," Barnes said. "They're ready to be outside in their pool."

But until then, perhaps the best place this winter is inside.

The mammals that may be having the hardest time dealing with the cold, the humans, the zoo keepers. They said they have to take short visits outside that are just long enough to change water and check on the animals. They've also been taking extra steps like insulating outdoor areas and providing heat lamps for the animals so they don't get too cold.

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