Friday, April 25, 2008

Balding Penguin Gets a Wetsuit

Pierre, an African penguin at the California Academy of Sciences, was going bald, which posed a significant problem for the 25-year old bird. Penguins rely on their feathers to stay warm, not blubber.

The poor little bird was shivering and refusing to get into the water. Scientists charged with his care initially tried a heat lamp to keep him warm, but that was costing him social interaction, so they began brainstorming. The result was interesting to say the least. They ordered him a wetsuit.

Pierre, who began going bald when he was five years older than the average life expectancy of a penguin, was fitted for a suit by Oceanic, one of the largest manufacturers of wetsuits in the world.

He has, since that time, began to re-grow his feathers. He now fearlessly plunges into the water where his mates have readily accepted him, allaying one of the early fears of the scientists. Pierre, who has been in the Velcro-closed suit for about six weeks now, is already being weaned off his new clothes as he re-grows his feathers, but until then happily flaps around the habitat with his black neoprene body.

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