Meet Akemi, the Calgary Zoo's shoe-wearing penguin

A penguin at the Calgary Zoo is waddling around the newly re-opened penguin plunge exhibit, wearing beer cozies on her feet.

Beer cozies sub in for boots to treat foot condition

The penguin to the right is Akemi's life partner. The zoo has been trying to breed the pair. (Karen Moxley/CBC)

A penguin at the Calgary Zoo is waddling around the freshly reopened Penguin Plunge exhibit, wearing beer cozies on her feet.

Akemi, a young gentoo penguin, is wearing the beer cozies to treat a bad case of bumblefoot, a bacterial infection that can afflict captive birds.

  • Listen to Karen Moxley's penguin shoe report:

"She injured her foot last year, and because of that she was moving less, and she was quite sore. She piled on the pounds which didn't help. And she developed pressure sores that ended up getting infected," said curator Malu Celli.

Akemi's shoes are switched every week. Last week she was wearing Calgary Flames cozies. (Karen Moxley/CBC)

"Boots really help her to move around more and keep active. It's helping her lose weight and it makes her feet less sore," said Celli.

The zoo did order proper penguin boots for Akemi to wear, but the footwear ended up being too large.

So, the Zoo vets got creative, opting to swap out the official penguin shoes for beer cozies. The cozies have a zipper up the side and are also fixed around Akemi's ankles using duct tape.

Akemi wears through her beer cozie shoes in a week, explained Celli. Akemi never fusses over the boots or tries to pry them off her feet, she said.

"She can move so much better, so that is reinforcing enough for her. She understands the treatment is working."

All of the cozies were tracked down by Calgary’s Craft Beer Market, and donated by Carlsberg.

Akemi will continue to wear her penguin beer cozie shoes until her feet have completely healed.

The makeshift shoes don't hinder Akemi when she swims, say zoo staff. (Karen Moxley/CBC)