On Saturday, two new Magellanic penguin chicks, which hatched back in May, graduated from San Francisco Zoo's "Fish School" and joined the institution’s colony of birds at Penguin Island. Their ceremonial waddle to the exhibit was nothing short of a massive serotonin release.
Bay Area zoos were in financial turmoil during the state's tiered reopening. Ticket sales — the main source of income for most zoological facilities in the United States — plummeted, and visitors that did make their way into zoos could only see outdoor exhibits. But through generous donations, as well as increased visitor numbers earlier this past summer, both the Oakland Zoo and San Francisco Zoo avoided permanently closing; they still, however, suffered millions of dollars in lost revenue.
If waddling was an Olympic sport; these two new Magellanic penguin chicks would be gold medalists! Hatched in May, they just graduated from Fish School and today was the ceremonial March of the Penguins as hundreds of guests came to see them! pic.twitter.com/oTZPPP1xaV— San Francisco Zoo (@sfzoo) August 7, 2021
Appreciation for the San Francisco zoo, specifically, was on full display Saturday when hundreds of zoogoers came to see two young Magellanic penguins march their way to Penguin Island after graduating from "Fish School," the zoos penguin rearing program.
"If waddling was an Olympic sport; these two new Magellanic penguin chicks would be gold medalists," tweeted the SF Zoo. "Hatched in May, they just graduated from Fish School and today was the ceremonial March of the Penguins as hundreds of guests came to see them!"
Thanks to everyone who voted in our online poll of names selected by our animal care team. The winning name is “Lemon!”! pic.twitter.com/jJ06hsJkOQ— San Francisco Zoo (@sfzoo) August 7, 2021
Before its renovation in 1984, the 200-foot-long pool at Penguin Island was initially opened in 1940 as a multipurpose exhibit. Over the years, it's served as the home for a wide variety of exotic fauna — at one point, the exhibit space had squirrel monkeys jumping from branch to branch — but it's remained a sanctuary for the South American penguins ever since.
Apparently, one of the birds was given the name "Lemon" over the weekend, as voted on by zoogoers.
If you want to see Lemon and its graduation mate, as well as the dozens of other Magellanic penguins inside Penguin Island, you can buy tickets online at sfzoo.org/tickets. The zoo is currently operating on limited capacity and all visitors must reserve tickets in advance; you can read San Francisco Zoo's COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures, here.
Image: Screen shot courtesy of Twitter via @sfzoo