A colony of fairy penguins, have moved into a brand new enclosure at SEA LIFE Weymouth Adventure Park and together with Kara (Chelseamamma) and her kids we all headed to Weymouth on the Bank Holiday Weekend for the launch of the of the new Fairy Penguin Cove, to check out the flock of little blue penguins which are the world’s smallest penguin measuring just over 25cm tall and they weigh around 1 kg!!
Twenty fairy penguins have relocated from Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Australia to Weymouth in Dorset, due to the closure of the Manly Sanctuary in February. The penguins are native to New Zealand and Southern Australia, but Weymouth was chosen as their new home due to the seaside town’s average summer and winter temperatures being very similar to those experienced by the penguins in their natural habitat.
The park has invested in excess of £100,000 into the new enclosure which will give visitors the opportunity to get closer to the penguins than ever before and interact with them in a whole new way. An American style boardwalk is being built to allow visitors to take a stroll through the enclosure and feel like part of the colony.
In years to come, Weymouth SEA LIFE plans to establish a breeding programme which will create a sustainable population of fairy penguins in Europe. The Penguins already came with names and there are some Who’s Who Signs in the enclosure where you can identify each Fairy Penguin which didn’t stop Molly-May asking the keepers who’s waddling around!
Get to know more about Weymouth’s newest residents with these fun facts:
· They are the only penguins in the world that can raise more than one set of chicks per year.
· They keep their feathers waterproof by rubbing oil that comes from a gland on their tail, all over their bodies.
· They moult their feathers once a year which means that they can’t go swimming for a couple of weeks as they won’t be able to stay warm in the water.
· Adult birds come ashore between May and June to prepare nests. They may waddle up to 1.5 km from the sea, and climb 300m to find the perfect nest site.
· Traditional nests are in underground burrows, under vegetation, in crevices, between rocks or in caves.
· Maremma sheepdogs have been used to protect fairy penguin colonies against foxes and other predators. This also inspired the plot of the Australian film ‘Oddball’.
Weymouth SEA LIFE is the home to more than 1,000 creatures with 13 different zones containing penguins, sharks, turtles and stingrays. Guests are invited to learn all about these creatures which live in and around the sea and how we can work together to protect them from harm.
Throughout May you can dive into the deep with SEA LIFE in its new Jurassic Seas adventure, where you can go back in time to explore pre-historic life with exciting Jurassic challenges from as far back as the Ediacaran period. You can pick up your special work sheet when you arrive so you can discover a world of ancient underwater life as you navigate through the Jurassic trail to find six fossils hidden in the mystery tanks just like this one:
In the activity zone the kids took part in their own archaeological dig, using brushes to find fossils like a real archaeological explorer and the ranger was on hand helping them identify what exact species their fossils where! Here is my very own Fossil Hunter with his find:
Families can find out when their favourite sea creatures date back to with informative displays, fossil rubbings and colourings sheets, as well as test their knowledge with interactive timeline boards.
Once the kids successfully uncovered all the fossils of pre-historic beasts to reveal a mystery word they where able to pick up their very own special badge in the gift shop which made them a certified SEA LIFE Ranger. The kids loved adding some more badges to their already full SEA LIFE lanyard!
Tickets for SEA LIFE Weymouth start from as little as £11.35 for an Online Saver Ticket which can save you up to 40% of the normal on the door price and it even comes with a Rainy Day Guarantee* which means you can return for (*applies when there is an hour or more of persistent rain on the day of your visit).
Disclaimer: We were invited to the opening of the Fairy Penguin Cove, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.