Picky Toddler Penguins

Wednesday 20th May: Zoo Keepers at Chessington World of Adventures Resort have noticed that the Humboldt penguins residing in the new Penguin Bay have developed toddler-like tendencies when it comes to mealtimes. Mirroring the behaviour of the human toddlers on park, the penguins are now particularly picky with what food they eat and how it is served!


Anyone who has shared a mealtime with a toddler knows that little humans can be unpredictable, indecisive and temperamental when it comes to food choices, often changing their preferences on a whim. Much like their human counterparts, some of the younger penguins at Chessington’s Penguin Bay have developed tricky eating habits, including playing with their food, wanting food served in a particular way and only wanting to eat the sweeter dishes on the menu.


Keepers have found that the Humboldt penguins at Chessington are all fairly picky with their meal choices, most of them refusing to eat the more mainstream sprat, opting instead for finer choices such as herring, smelt and mackerel. And like a toddler getting hold of dessert before their main, the pickiest birds refuse to eat anything at all if there’s capelin – a fish rich in vitamin B12 – on the menu.  Capelin is the penguin equivalent of chocolate, and some of the younger birds have been known to turn their beaks up at anything else, preferring to go hungry if they don’t get their capelin. One couple - Juanita and Chicana - even go as far as to only wanting to eat squid if they get a choice!


When it comes to serving style, if they are fed in the water and not on land, the penguins will play with their food – not dissimilar to a toddler if they get the chance. They also refuse to eat food off the ground, preferring to be hand fed – or spoon fed, like a toddler.


Nick Tulley, penguin keeper at Chessington World of Adventures Resort said: "Mealtimes at Penguin Bay can be quite tricky, as we definitely have some diva penguins on our hands. Out of the 23 penguins in our care, at least half of them will refuse to eat their sprat if there is anything tastier at the bottom of the bucket! As with toddlers, we have learnt that we need to be a bit sneaky, making sure they eat their main before they get dessert. We also change it up a bit on a daily basis, offering them a mix of fish to include mackerel, which is very high in protein and oil-rich herring, which maintains the penguins' fat reserves. We’re also slowly working on getting them to feed on their own and not by hand, although this is something they are not yet ready to compromise on! We'd love to see parents bring their own fussy eaters along to see how we teach table manners here at Penguin Bay."


Whilst at Chessington, why not dive into the Year of the Penguins, where DreamWorks Penguins of Madagascar descend for an exclusive live show, a newly themed penguin ride provides fun and games in the park’s Africa land and visit the picky Humboldt penguins up close and personal as they frolic in a brand new walk-through experience! And that’s not all - guests at the Resort Hotels can even sleep in special DreamWorks Penguins of Madagascar themed bedrooms at the Chessington Safari Hotel as Britain’s Wildest Adventure takes on the penguin challenge.


For more information please visit, Chessington.com  


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For further information please call the team on 020 7693 6999 or email CWOA@frankpr.it.




Notes to Editors

  • High Resolution images of Chessington World of Adventures Resort are available for the media to download free of charge from www.chessington.com/press 


  • Twitter: @cwoa    Facebook: Facebook.com/chessington    Instagram: @chessingtonworldofadventures                      Google+: google.com/+chessington


  • Discover the perfect family get away at the Chessington Safari Hotel and Chessington Azteca Hotel, where you can enjoy themed rooms, an indoor swimming pool, spa and Savannah Splash pool and two fantastic themed restaurants.


  • For 12 months unlimited access to Chessington and/or Merlin’s other UK attractions see our range of annual passes at Merlin Annual Pass


  • The Zoo at Chessington World of Adventures is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.


  • MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS plc is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment. Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates 105 attractions, 11 hotels/3 holiday villages in 23 countries and across 4 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its almost 60 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, the and the commitment and passion of its managers and c25,000 employees.


  • Among Merlin’s attractions are – SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, THORPE PARK Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park Resort, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, Sydney Tower Eye and SKYWALK. All brands which as distinctive, challenging and innovative – and which have great potential for growth in the future. Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information. 

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