Zoo uses plas­tic pen­guins

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

ZOO KEEP­ERS have been left in a flap af­ter a short­age of pen­guins forced them to fill a brand new en­clo­sure with plas­tic mod­els.

Ex­otic Zoo in Telford, Shrop­shire, had spent thou­sands of pounds on the spe­cial­ist at­trac­tion, which had been due to open in the sum­mer hol­i­days.

But vis­i­tors were left dis­ap­pointed when a UK out­break of avian malaria meant bosses were un­able to take de­liv­ery of six Hum­boldt pen­guins, which are na­tive to South Amer­ica.

Zoo di­rec­tor Scott Adams in­stead de­cided to fill the empty en­clo­sure with plas­tic im­i­ta­tions un­til they can get hold of the real thing, so they can “at least ed­u­cate vis­i­tors to some ex­tent”.

Adams, 35, who reg­u­larly ap­pears as an an­i­mal ex­pert on TV, said: “We’ve just timed it re­ally badly. The en­clo­sure is the zoo’s most ex­pen­sive to date.

“But then disas­ter struck. Un­for­tu­nately, over the last cou­ple of years, there was a re­ally bad case of penguin malaria that swept through the UK.”

Avian malaria, which is trans­mit­ted by mos­qui­toes, has caused a short­age of pen­guins bred in cap­tiv­ity. It can be fa­tal for birds such as pen­guins that have not de­vel­oped a re­sis­tance to it.

It has been par­tic­u­larly tough for smaller zoos, like Adams’, which find it harder to get hold of new stock.

With no arrivals ex­pected un­til num­bers re­plen­ish,

Adams plans to dress up a staff mem­ber as a penguin at Christ­mas to en­ter­tain chil­dren.

Zoo vis­i­tor Julie Fearn,

44, from

Shrews­bury, said: “It does look a bit weird.” – Daily

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