Thursday, December 3, 2009

Penguin Physicals

The penguins get physical exams two times a year and it's a very busy day for Aquarium staff and volunteers. The day begins bright and early with a gentoo and macaroni roundup. Most of the penguins tend to play follow the leader once the keeper door is opened into the penguin backup area. They simply follow their curiosity into the holding area, encouraged by some fishy treats. There are a couple of wise guys however. In the top picture you see "Blue", the lone gentoo who decided to hang out with his macaroni pal "Merlin" while the water was being drained from the exhibit.
Every roundup needs a sheriff, so Kevin Calhoon had to wade into the exhibit to nab the two holdouts.

As part of the examination, each bird is weighed and blood samples are taken. This is just like a human annual exam. In the picture above, Kevin Calhoon gently holds the baby macaroni penguin while Amy Graves steadies the chick's foot as Dr. Chris Keller obtains the blood sample.

Volunteer Fran Hiestand logs weight information and labels blood vials while assisting the team.

Meanwhile, another big job is underway. Here's Aquarium volunteer George McGinness displaying the tools of the trade - brushes of various sizes used to give the exhibit a deep cleaning while the penguins are off-exhibit.

Aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich begins the deep cleaning process with a pressure washer. The exhibit gets brushed and disinfected on a daily basis, but more vigorous cleaning still needs to be done from time to time.

Algae builds up on the bottom of the pool, but is easily blasted away by the power washer. Loribeth points out the dramatic difference the scrubbing makes.

Aquarium volunteer Sheri Schannuth would be underwater on any other day. But while the pool is empty, she can work on making sure the acrylic windows are spotless. Visitors enjoy the crystal clear views of our playful penguins.

Biscuit wraps up her physical by looking back at Kevin. Like any good patient, it appears as if she's saying, "I was good. Where's my treat?"


Anonymous said...

Give a fool enough rope and he will hang himself........................................

Anonymous said...

I love these penguins! I watch them on the Penguins Rock! webcam all the time and will be seeing the in person again in a couple of weeks! Thanks TN aquarium!