It’s a cold snap life for penguins up in Alberta, Canada.
Not only did the Calgary Zoo have to cancel its Zoo Lights holiday event on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 due to frigid temperatures, but the staff also decided to bring its penguin flock inside rather than subject the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic birds to the -28 C (feels like -40 C with the wind chill!) weather. The zoo follows a guideline whereby zookeepers bring the birds inside when the temp falls below -25 C.
According to CTVNews, the zoo has 51 members in its flock, which represents a variety of species. In the wild, king penguins often dwell in sub-Antarctic regions, but they are more accustomed to milder climates than their Antarctic cousins, the emperor penguins.
“We just don’t want to expose them to too much,” Malu Celli, the zoo’s curator, told CTVNews on Sunday. “To keep them safe, we decided to pick a limit to let them out.”
Celli went on to say that “It’s not necessarily that it’s too cold for them … I believe that physiologically, they can withstand colder weather than what we have here, but these are not wild birds.”
In fact, the king penguins have a chick among the flock (see “Cleopatra,” below) who is still maturing, so the zookeepers decided to err on the side of safety.
All species of penguins have a layer of insulating fat, as well as down feathers that help them keep warm. Plus, the tuxedoed birds tend to huddle together to create warmth while conserving heat by keeping their flippers close at their sides. That said, the Calgary Zoo’s penguins, who hail from several regions of the world, would probably be more than happy to waddle around in the frigid cold open air.
“It’s kind of like you can bundle up your kid, but then there’s a point you’re going to say, ‘I know you’re good, but I’d rather you stay inside now,’ ” Celli told CTVNews.
(Below, see the penguins roaming outside during the summer months at the zoo.)
Luckily, there’s good news for the fresh air-loving members of the Calgary Zoo penguin flock in 2018: A media representative at the zoo tells PEOPLE that although “the king penguins moved indoors when the temps plummeted … the weather has since become much milder … so this is no longer an issue.”
The recent frigid weather also resulted in cancellations of New Year polar bear dips and plunges throughout Canada.