Humbolt penguin

Humbolt Penguins

Our Colony of Humboldt penguins were all bred at our sister SEA LIFE attractions. These endearing and sometimes comical creatures come from the coasts of Chile and Peru where there are estimated to be fewer than 10,000 pairs still surviving.

Colonies like ours here may one day provide a vital lifeline for this endangered species. Their disappearance would certainly be a tragic loss to the animal kingdom.

Each penguin has a different coloured tag to be able to tell them apart. Male penguins have a coloured band on their right wing and females on their left wing.

Meet our resident Humboldt penguins!


gilbert penguin

Gilbert (Green/White band)

Gilbert was born 7th July 2009. He was transferred to the National Seal Sanctuary from Weymouth SEA LIFE centre with his brother Piran. Gilbert loves to show off during his annual moult, a time when our other penguins are embarrassed by their scruffy appearance! He is a bold penguin, who always runs to get his fish at feeding time.

Fun Fact: Gilbert loves to chase things he sees through the viewing windows


piran penguin

Piran (Pink/White band)

Piran was born at Weymouth SEA LIFE centre and re-homed at the Sanctuary with his brother Gilbert in 2010. He can be a very shy penguin, preferring to hide away in his nest box during his annual moult. In fact, Piran spends 8 days growing a new coat of feathers every July! Piran is a fussy eater, inspecting both sides of his fish before deciding if they’re good enough to eat!

Fun Fact: Piran loves chasing bees around the pool!


ivy penguin

Ivy (Red/Black band)

Ivy was born on 29th December 2004, and amazingly, she could live to an impressive 25 years of age. She was born at Weymouth SEA LIFE centre and re-homed at the Sanctuary in 2010. She is a very sensible penguin and can be nervous of anything new. Ivy spends most of her day relaxing in the pool, but always keeps one eye on what’s going on around the Sanctuary! Ivy’s favourite past times include watching the visitors and our Animal Care Team.

Fun Fact: Ivy often steals fish out of the other penguin’s beaks at feeding time!


ruby penguin

Ruby (Red/White band)

Ruby was born at Weymouth SEA LIFE centre and re-homed at the Sanctuary with her sister Lola in 2010. She is a very polite penguin and waits patiently for her turn at feeding time. Ruby is known as the escape artist of the group, managing to squeeze out through the smallest gaps when the Animal Care Team is trying to weigh the penguins! Ruby can swim as fast as 8 mph and loves to chase the other penguins around the pool!

Fun Fact: Ruby can swim as fast as 8 mph and loves to chase the other penguins around the pool!

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beautiful female penguin Ruby.

After successfully completing her annual moult at the end of August Ruby was sporting her beautiful new feathers, but only a few days later she began refusing to eat. Realising the importance of making sure each penguin receives their daily quota of fish the team quickly responded and began gently force feeding her to ensure she received the nutrition she needed. The vet was contacted and Ruby began a course of precautionary treatment. A week later Ruby was still not feeding for herself but was showing small improvements and was spending more time in the pool with the other penguins. However, during week two Ruby deteriorated further and was rushed into the surgery to have a number of tests. Whilst awaiting the test results the team brought Ruby back to the sanctuary to continue her treatment. Gilbert, Ruby’s worried partner, was a perfect gent throughout her treatment regularly bringing fish back to the nest to try and tempt her. Sadly even this did not work. With the test results giving little clues on what may be causing her lack of appetite and with her condition deteriorating further the decision was made on Saturday 8th September to take Ruby back to the surgery for an exploratory operation. The vet found that Ruby had a severe infection of the stomach lining. With the outlook being poor, and to prevent any future suffering, the difficult decision was made to allow Ruby to pass away peacefully.

The team are keeping a close eye on the remaining penguin group, and Gilbert in particular, to try and minimise the impact of losing one of their friends and partner. Part of this process will involve trying to find Gilbert a suitable new prospective girlfriend as soon as possible.

For the full statement, click here


lola penguin

Lola (Blue/White band)

Lola was born at Weymouth SEA LIFE Centre and re-homed at the Sanctuary with her sister Ruby in 2010. She is a very playful penguin and likes to assist the Animal Care Team by hanging onto their brooms and nets with her beak! Lola is always the first one to explore any new toys, showing the other penguins how it’s done. Lola loves the water, and loves being sprayed with the hose. She can also stay underwater for up to 2 minutes!

Fun Fact: Lola is the bravest and nosiest of our penguins


barney penguin

Barney (Yellow band)

Barney was born on 11th April 2007. He was named after Barney Gumble from The Simpsons as he always looks scruffy and is a very messy eater, the only one of our penguins who will happily eat sandy fish off the floor. Barney’s favourite past times include chasing girls around the pool and eating herring and sprats.

Fun Fact: Barney had the largest beak of all our penguins!

We are very sorry to announce that Barney our much-loved Humboldt penguin passed away on the 6th May. Since joining our small colony in November 2010 Barney became a hit with staff, visitors and our other penguins! His playful and cheeky nature made him a perfect match for our adventurous penguin, and his chosen female ‘Lola’.

Part way through April the team noticed that Barney had become less interested in his fish. With usually a very healthy appetite we quickly became worried about the cause. Our vets were called and Barney was moved to the isolation pen with his partner Lola to keep him company. Here the team were able to keep a close eye on him and begin treating him with a range of medication including antibiotics in case Barney had developed an infection. In order to keep Barney’s strength up, the team also started giving him regular fluid feeds through a stomach tube and gently force feeding him fish. Barney also went to the surgery to have x-rays and an endoscopy in case he had eaten a foreign body. Nothing was found so treatment continued in the hope that he would slowly begin to recover. Despite three weeks of treatment and several good days where Barney decided to feed himself he suddenly went down hill and became too weak to support himself. The vet was called immediately and the very difficult decision was made to assist Barney to pass away quietly.

A post mortem investigation found that Barney had eaten an 8cm long twig that he must have picked up from the pool. Sadly this did not show up in the x-rays or any investigation of his stomach. Despite the team’s daily efforts to keep the pool clear of items such as twigs, Barney’s inquisitive and playful nature unfortunately contributed to this tragic accident.

The team have been devastated by the loss of Barney but are working on making some small improvements to the penguin enclosure, and will soon be sending out the search for a new partner for Lola. Barney was a penguin with a huge personality, and for the team and the other penguins, he will be dearly missed and remembered with a smile.

To read the Sanctuary's full statement, click here.


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