Calgary

Penguin Walk returns to the Calgary Zoo

The popular Penguin Walk returns to the Calgary Zoo on Saturday — just in time for the king colony to celebrate five years of taking royal waddles around the grounds.

Walks scheduled daily starting at 11 a.m. but Mother Nature's co-operation is needed

The little waddlers are back at it again. They're strutting their stuff to get their daily exercise. Participation depends on how each bird is feeling that day, as well as the weather conditions. 0:26

The popular Penguin Walk returns to the Calgary Zoo on Saturday — just in time for the king colony to celebrate five years of taking royal waddles around the grounds.

"We do the penguin walk for two reasons, one is it gives the penguins an opportunity to exercise, they get to see a different environment ... they get to experience different sounds and people and see different sights" said Colleen Baird, general curator at the Calgary Zoo.

"And the second [reason] is just for fun. It's fun and they enjoy it, so we let them walk."

The walks are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. daily starting Saturday. They begin in front of the Penguin Plunge building and head down to the Discovery Trail Bridge then loop back to their habitat.

It's up to each bird whether they want to take part, but Mother Nature has a say too — the walks are put on hold when the temperature rises above 5 C or dips below –25 C.

King penguins will begin their daily walk at the Calgary Zoo on Saturday. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

"We monitor the walk," said Baird. "We watch their behaviours. We stop if we think one is needing a minute to sort of calm down or another slow one needs to catch up, so there's lots of animal care staff that walk with the penguins."

There's a new, interesting addition to this year's walk — a chick hatched in August 2016, which is still covered in brown feathers.

"That's what king penguin chicks look like, they're brown, they're fuzzy, they have a different texture to their feathers," Baird explained.

A chick hatched in August 2016 takes part in its first Penguin Walk at the Calgary Zoo on Friday. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

"They look fuzzy, they look furry, but all of that brown fluff you see will shed away when they molt later this year. They do that because their feathers are really important to them. They keep them warm, they keep them dry ... those feathers get worn and tattered and damaged so every year they shed them out and grow some new ones."

Three other types of penguins are also housed at the zoo — gentoo, humboldt and rockhopper — but only the kings go on the walks.

With files from Julien Lecacheur

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