Penguin at East Riding zoo set to reach 30th birthday – is Rosie the oldest penguin in the country?

Celebrations are going on behind the closed doors at one zoo to mark the 30th birthday of Rosie, a Humboldt penguin.

By Sue Wilkinson
Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 1:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 1:42 pm
Rosie with John Pickering
Rosie with John Pickering

The zoo at Sewerby Hall and Gardens, near Bridlington, is currently closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Rosie will be 30 on Monday April 20 and reaching the milestone birthday is a real achievement, both for Rosie and the zoo staff who look after the animal. Life expectancy of Humboldt penguins in the wild is 15 to 20, and Rosie is believed to be one of the oldest penguins in the UK.

Rosie arrived at Sewerby Hall and Gardens in 1990 and has successfully hatched chicks over the years.

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Rosie, along with her companions Dion, Pingu and Penny, have ensured the lasting popularity of the penguins at the zoo. All were bred in captivity, and have played a vital role in the zoo’s breeding programme since 1990 – Humboldt penguins are classed as vulnerable to extinction in the wild, because of changes in climate and overfishing of their preferred prey species.

They are South American penguins and live mainly in the north of Chile. They nest on islands and rocky coasts, burrowing holes in guano and sometimes using scrapes or caves. In South America the Humboldt penguin is found only along the Pacific coast.

Head zoo keeper John Pickering said: “We are genuinely excited that Rosie is about to reach her 30th birthday, and we will definitely be marking the occasion. It’s obviously a real shame that we can’t share it with the public in the normal way, but we look forward to welcoming visitors back to the zoo, and to the daily penguin feeding times, as soon as we are able.

“I am particularly pleased that we are able to do our bit to preserve this amazing species, and we will most definitely continue to do so.”

The zoo has also recently welcomed Sigsbee, a Humboldt penguin who has come from Twycross Zoo. He arrived a few weeks ago, and is settling in well with his new companions.

During the current closure period, staff at the zoo are still working hard to look after the animals, and are also regularly posting updates and videos of daily life in the zoo.