Sometimes, Calgary zookeepers have to get creative — and even a "little sneaky."

After all, it can be tough trying to get each of the 51 penguins at the zoo to take their daily vitamins.

"To get the penguins to actually take their pill, we're a little sneaky," said Mona Keith, lead keeper of the African Savannah and penguin exhibits. 

"We take the pill and we slip it just in behind the gills of the fish." 

Not just cleaning

Penguin herring gills

Zookeepers slip vitamin pills behind the gills of herring before feeding the fish to the penguins. They do this 51 times each day. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

For this particular trick, they use one of the tastiest fish for penguins: herring.

Each penguin gets one "pill fish" daily, meaning the zookeepers have to do this 51 times each day. 

People rarely go to the zoo to see the zookeepers, and when they do catch sight of them, the staff are often cleaning. 

But zookeepers spend quite a bit of time interacting with the species, sometimes administering medication and offering physical conditioning.

'Each has their own personality'

Zookeeper herring penguin

"We use the herring because that's their favourite fish. There's a greater chance they are going to take it," says Keith (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

"You get to know the individual animals. Even though we have 51 penguins here at the zoo, each has their own personality," said Keith.

Keith has been with the Calgary Zoo for 33 years and has been working with some of the same animals for 20 years.

"You can't help but to get attached to them."

As part of National Zoo Keeper Week, the Calgary Zoo is celebrating the 44 zookeepers that care for more than 800 animals every day of the year.

Penguin Rockhopper

Smaller penguins like the Humboldt or this Rockhopper receive smaller vitamin pills than the Gentoo and King penguins at the Zoo. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

With files from Evelyne Asselin