Saturday, April 30, 2011

Penguin and carp - failed experiment

Last year the Nuremberg Zoo in Germany  introduced a few carp Cyprinidae to their Humboldt penguins Spheniscus humboldti.

A raft chasing a carp.

The hope was that if the fish were big enough the penguins would not see them as prey and leave them alone.

Even if there were a few and minor conflicts, resulting in slightly increased stress-levels with higher alertness, and more activity, it could be seen as beneficial.

Unfortunately the conflicts were major from day one and after a short time the experiment ended as failed.

The birds chased the fish and pecked at them whenever they caught up. There were not enough dark hiding places for the fish.
Besides, the idea was not for the fish to hide in some crevice, but to be in plain view of the visitor window and liven up the pool when the penguins were on land.

Mixed species exhibits can be beneficial for animals and fun for visitors. It could have been here too, even if penguin and carp are a questionable combination.

I'm sorry it didn't work out. But not experimenting would mean stagnation - and that would be the true tragedy, and much worse than a failed try!


While I was writing this page I wanted to know what a group of penguin is called. If it is above water it is called a waddle, if it is below water it is called a raft.

How come I didn't see that bit of fun information on any of the many penguin graphics I came by in the last couple years?

I know it is pointless and useless, but that is exactly the kind of pointless and useless information that will lead to social interaction: "Hey guys, guess what a group of penguins underwater is called?" 

It is also the kind of success and fun that will make it more likely for the visitors to come back to the graphic panel and fish for more candy. And then (and only then) is it the time to insinuate something heavier.

Besides - where else can you use the words raft and waddle but at a penguin exhibit with an underwater view? So go for it!