This is the story of Pierre and Ocio, two male African penguins who live at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
African penguins live in colonies and have an average lifespan of 10 years. So you can image the trainers’ surprise when Pierre the Penguin turned 25 this year, and became the senior citizen of his lively community. In his youth, he cut a bold and heroic figure. Survived some difficult years but triumphed …that is, until his feathers started to fall out. And fall in clumps. It wasn’t long before Pierre was bald and shivering from the cold. The other penguins pecked at him or backed away because he was different (birds are like that).
Fortunately, the Academy’s aquatic biologist Pamela Schaller had a wacky idea that could give the aging Pierre a second shot. She ordered a custom-made wetsuit to warm him up. And six weeks later, Pierre was growing feathers again. He had more energy…he got some attention from the ladies. It wasn’t long before the veteran was back in familiar waters.
In the meantime, Ocio, a popular young penguin in the same colony, was splashing and swimming and generally charming his fellow birds — not to mention the humans who watched him wiggle through the water with almost magical grace and poise. Also raised by Pam, who bottle-fed him as a baby, Ocio grew up to be an unusually smart bird. He’s as curious about you as you are about him – and he keeps active in the water even when his fellow penguins are taking a rest on the rocks.
Thousands of visitors will fill the halls of the spectacular new California Academy of Science when it opens in Golden Gate Park on September 27, 2008. And many will regard their moments watching the colony of penguins in African Hall as the highlight of the day.
Some will favor Pierre, the senior statesman. Some will prefer the young and clever Ocio as he follows their finger along the glass with his nose. Thus far, neither has been nominated for political office. But if they were, who would get your vote?
Meet Pierre and Ocio : http://www.calacademy.org/webcams/penguins/
Buzzworthy items you won’t want to miss at the new Academy of Sciences:
- Claude, an albino alligator and his alligator girlfriend Lucy, who recently moved into the swamp with 5 snapping turtles.
- Boccolo, a 165-pound sea bass.
- The 4-story glass-domed Rainforest which features living animals from tropical environments in Borneo, Madagascar and Costa Rica as well as free-flying birds and butterflies.
- An Amazon flooded forest that comes to life with live anacondas, piranhas and giant catfish
- The new Academy café that was conceived and created by Chef Charles Phan (The Slanted Door) where you can rest your feet and sip a glass of wine.