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Thursday, September 13, 2012


The Personable Penguin

When he first came to the Aquarium, Newsom was a shy young penguin who had yet to develop the head stripe that characterizes his species. Today after going through his first molt Newsom now has a stripe and a curiosity for people that adores himself to participants in Penguin Encounters and to VIPs and media folks on his field trips.

Hatched in San Francisco, Newsom tended to stick by the “Zoo” birds when he first arrived in Long Beach. Unlike the “Brazilians” who were very friendly to people and would immediately check out the staff visiting their holding pad, Newsom and the NorCal penguins would hang back content to just be around their own species.

Little by little Newsom’s curiosity about people would lead him closer and closer to the folks visiting his pad. I’d like to think that watching Avery, a very bold but good-natured penguin from Brazil, as he playfully interacted with the staff helped Newsom become more confident around people. In fact sometimes I think that Avery may have overdone his mentoring of Newsom.

Today Newsom is a very personable penguin who likes to hang around people and investigate his surroundings. Avery may have taught Newsom about how much fun it is to be around people however he forgot to teach him about personal space! Last Saturday after helping out on the last penguin feed of the day Newsom came by just to hang out with me as I sat in the exhibit. He proceeded to play with the whistle around my neck that I use while working with the pinnipeds and sea otters. When he grew tired of that Newsom then leaned his head against me like a dog seeking attention. When it came time to leave it took a while to tear the clingy penguin away from me. It was like having the attention of a huge aquatic black and white lorikeet from Lorikeet Forest that was insisting on hanging onto you. I can see why people enjoy this very friendly penguin so much during penguin encounters session.

Newsom before and after his recent molt. Note that he is now striped like an adult Magellanic Penguin.  | Hugh Ryono
The oldest penguin in the exhibit, Henry, with one of the youngest, Newsom. Newsom is a very friendly penguin, even to other penguins.  | Hugh Ryono
Newsom checks out aquarist DeAnn during a photo shoot from earlier this year. His mentor, Avery, is in the background.  | Hugh Ryono
Newsom hangs out with volunteer marine mammal trainer Robin in the June Keyes Penguin Exhibit.  | Hugh Ryono

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