Potbellied penguins at Gweek Seal Sanctuary have been put on a diet - and are proving just as reluctant to get on the scales as any New Year heavy weight.

The six Humboldt penguins should weigh approximately 10lbs each, but since their arrival at the Seal Sanctuary last April, regular feeding times and a comfortable lifestyle have seen the penguins pile on the pounds.

Concerned Seal Sanctuary staff are keen to record the penguins´ weight so they can control their food intake accordingly, but despite their rotund tummies it would appear the penguins aren´t fat in the head. The clever birdies are cannily avoiding the scales, forcing staff to camouflage them under the sandy floor of their pen in an ongoing ′weighing′ game.
Jenna Blacow, penguin expert at the Seal Sanctuary, says: ″Penguins are sensitive birds and very skittish, so it would be far too stressful for them for us to chase them about and catch them by hand in order to weigh them.″

″We have trained the seals to come out of the pool and sit on specially designed scales, and we are hoping we will be able to train our penguins to do the same, but so far it seems they have a guilty conscience about getting on the scales!″

″The penguins are smarter than we gave them credit for. They know we have hidden the scales and are stretching out their necks over them to grab the fish from our hands″.

Despite their frustrations, the penguin team are determined not to be defeated and will persevere.

Jenna adds: ″Wild creatures are often wary when they are faced with something new, so if we keep trying hopefully we will succeed in getting them on the scales when they realise there is nothing to be afraid of.″

In the meantime, all the penguins will be hand fed and monitored carefully, whilst activities such as ′penguin football′ will be included in their enrichment programmes to encourage the penguins to keep active.
Photo opportunity: Animal Care Team trying to out wit the penguins
Press release issued by: The National Seal Sanctuary
For more information please contact: Steph Waller on 01326 221361
Date: 8th February 2011