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I expect that this is not a question that is on all visitors’ minds. But, if you are a fan of those quirky little black and white birds, there are plenty to be found in the UK. Penguins don’t live in the wild here, but a number of wildlife parks and zoos have several different species. Below are a few of my favourite places to see them.
The most famous of these is of course London Zoo, located in Regent’s Park, Central London. The penguins used to live in a very distinctive penguin pool, which was built in 1934. The old pool is still part of the zoo, but no longer has any residents as the penguins were moved to a larger pool in 2003.
In May 2011, London Zoo opened the new Penguin Beach. This is a purpose built pool area, designed with penguins and visitors in mind. For the penguins it offers an environment that more closely resembles their natural habitat. For the visitor, it has more space to view the penguins, including a glass sided pool to allow you to watch them swimming.
A particular character to look out for during your visit is Ricky the Rockhopper, who even has his own Facebook page!
Edinburgh Zoo is home to 10 King penguins, the second largest species of penguin. It also has a large colony of Gentoo penguins and some Rockhopper penguins.
There is a daily Penguin Parade, where the penguins are encouraged to take a walk from one gate of their enclosure to another, passing the visitors on their way. On some occasions they are obliging, and sometimes they are shy and just stay in their enclosure. Even if the penguins don’t venture out, you can still watch them swimming or waddling around inside their enclosure.
The most famous of the penguins at Edinburgh Zoo is Sir Nils Olaf, who is an honorary colonel-in-chief of the Norwegian army.
Surrey is an unlikely place to find penguins, but they can be found at Birdworld, a bird park just outside Farnham, along with many other species of birds, including parrots, owls and birds of prey.
The penguins at Birdworld are an engaging colony of African and Humboldt penguins, and visitors can attend two feeding sessions during a day’s visit. A cheeky stork can often be seen hanging around the penguin area shortly before and after feeding time, looking for stray fish!
Birdworld has recently opened Penguin Beach, which has given the African penguins an exciting new environment to explore. The beach has been inspired by Robben Island in South Africa, one of the places that African penguins live in the wild. Birdworld has 30 African penguins, each of which has a unique spot pattern on its chest.
Living Coasts is in the seaside town of Torquay, and is yet another great place to see penguins.
There are African and Macaroni penguins at Living Coasts, as well as other sea birds and creatures. What I particularly like about Living Coasts is that the penguins are able to wander out of their enclosure and across their own penguin crossing!
About the Blighty author
Nina Lenton enjoys writing about UK and overseas travel, and has an amazing ability to find penguins wherever she goes….
Photo by KellyB
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