This is the moment over a dozen king penguins waddle down a footpath surrounded by visitors during their first daily walk in over a year after it was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The footage of the king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) enjoying their 11 am walk was captured by staff at the Basel Zoo this month, November.
The king penguin is the second largest species of penguin in the world measuring 70 to 100 centimetres (28 to 39 inches) in height and weighing between 9.3 and 18 kilogrammes (21 and 40 lbs).
The daily walk was very popular with visitors at the zoo prior to the pandemic, as it allowed them to get close to the flightless birds.
However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the walk was cancelled for well over a year.
The penguins in the video are on their way from the indoor facility where they spend the night to an outdoor vivarium.
The walk takes place early in the day during the winter months because air temperature tends to be around 10 degrees which is very comfortable for the birds that are native to ice-cold climates, said the zoo.
During the summer, it is too hot for them to walk outside and there is the threat of mosquitos infecting them with bird malaria, so they are kept in air-conditioned vivariums.
Currently, 19 king penguins are participating in the daily walk, but the zoo plans to add eight gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) into the routine in the coming weeks.
The gentoo penguin is considerably smaller than the king penguin, measuring just 51 to 90 centimetres (20 to 35 inches) and weighing no more than 8.5 kilogrammes (19 lbs) when fully grown.
The zoo said: “Gentoo penguins are very curious and like to swallow foreign objects such as leaves and pieces of wood.
“As soon as the leaves have completely fallen from the trees and the paths have been cleared, the smaller species is part of the party.”
The gentoo penguins show a high level of curiosity towards random objects because of their nesting instincts, while king penguins do not construct nests, so are less interested in picking up stones and twigs along the footpath.
The penguins are given considerable freedom by the zookeepers during the walk, with its duration entirely determined by how long it takes the birds to complete the journey.
The walk also serves as an opportunity for the penguins to improve their fitness. Despite being mainly aquatic animals they do spend a lot of time walking in the wild when migrating to breeding sites.
The daily walks will improve their cardiovascular system and build up their muscles.
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Story By: Peter Barker, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
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