SeaWorld’s Penguins Weigh In

It’s not quite Shamu leaping out of the water, but it’s a pretty nifty trick nonetheless.

The intrepid aviculturists (bird geeks) at SeaWorld have snagged the “Husbandry Behavior of the Year Award” from the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators. Here, from SeaWorld’s press release, is how they did it.

In February 2006, the aviculturists team began training king penguins to weigh themselves, a task that had been no easy “feet” in the past due to the penguins large size (weighing up to 40 pounds) and strong flippers.

In an effort to make the weigh-in process easier, the aviculturist team worked diligently around the clock on the new training procedure that included many elements, such as a portable scale introduced in the penguin’s snowy habitat. Successfully, by February of 2007, the aviculture team had the king penguins lining up one after the other to get weighed.

“The new weigh-in process is less time consuming with remarkable benefits for the king penguins as well as our staff,” said Courtney Falke, Senior Aviculturist at SeaWorld Orlando, who spearheaded the entire project. “Who ever said you can’t teach an old bird new tricks?”

I sorta wish they’d provided more detail. Yeah, I get the portable scale, but exactly how did they train them to stand in line, hop on the scale, stand still long enough to be weighed, and then hop off for the next penguin?

Check out my review of SeaWorld’s Penguin Encounter and learn how you can pet a penguin during your SeaWorld visit.

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