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Penguins help set record attendance at Calgary Zoo

Staff writers
December 7, 2012 — The Calgary Zoo has set a new record for attendance this year and officials say that's thanks in part to the arrival of 46 penguins.

Penguins line up for their morning feed. They get one fish each
Penguins line up for their morning feed. They get one fish each

Dressed to the nines in black and white, penguins in Calgary are sure making a splash.

"We had 3 hour line ups here for the first little while, and people were absolutely blown away," says Trish Exton-Parder with the Calgary Zoo. 

The four different species of penguins are still a relatively new addition to the Calgary Zoo after arriving in February 2012.  

Officials say their arrival has actually helped the Calgary Zoo achieve a brand new record for yearly attendance.

"We've had our best year ever," says Exton-Parder. "And penguins were certainly a big part of that." 

In 2012, the zoo has already had 1,354,488 visitors. They're hoping to hit 1.4 million by the end of the year. 

The previous attendance record was set in 1988 when the giant pandas were at the zoo. 1,332,024 people visited that year.

Gentoo Penguins look like they're wearing white earmuffs
Gentoo Penguins look like they're wearing white earmuffs

The four different species of penguins you can find at the Calgary Zoo all offer different types of interesting personalities. 

Gentoo Penguins: The Gentoo Penguins are the third largest in the world and are identified with their black backs, white bellies and orange feet. "They also look like they're wearing white earmuffs," says zookeeper Kayla Weller. They spend time around the beach picking up the perfect rocks, which they bring back to add to their nests.

King Penguins: These penguins are the second largest in the world, next to Emperor Penguins and have distinctive orange markings on their face. "These guys are lots of fun because they always sort of group together, so if one goes one place, they all follow," laughs Weller.

Humboldt Penguins: Humboldt Penguins are warm weather species and flee to the water if they are scared. "They're a little bit more skiddish and tend to go into the water whenever something spooks them," says Weller. One of their popular traits includes something called a beak smack, which is a sign of affection.

Rockhopper Penguins: The fourth type of penguin at the zoo are the Rockhoppers, which are crested penguins with bright orange feathers on the side of their head. "They like to call out and they throw their head back and shake their head back and forth, so they're lots of fun as well," adds Weller. 

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