Penguin fans take steps to help rebuild zoo enclosure

DOZENS of people are set to leave their mark on a new penguin parade at Edinburgh Zoo, after buying “penguin footprints” to help raise thousands of pounds for a new enclosure.

The zoo’s Penguins Rock Appeal was launched three weeks ago and has already raised more than £22,000 of its £100,000 target, with several people purchasing special footprint dedications for loved ones.

Penguin fans can sponsor a penguin footprint on the parade route close to the pool, with their name and a special dedication featured on the brick.

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The money raised will go towards the £750,000 cost of creating a new enclosure to house the Capital’s famous penguin colony.

Sponsorship manager at Edinburgh Zoo, Rebecca Whitley, said: “Penguins Rock Appeal has been a huge success so far and we have had a great response from our members and the public alike.

“It’s great to see how popular our penguins are with the public and we’re sure that we will be able to give them a great enclosure that will be home to these famous birds for years to come.

“We hope to have 100 sponsored bricks in place when the enclosure is completed, which would be great as 2013 is our centenary year, although, as they are proving popular, we might reach that target quickly.”

In March, the zoo’s popular penguin parade had to be suspended, and two-thirds of the birds were farmed out to other zoos, after leaks were found in their pool.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland launched a campaign earlier this month to raise funds for the new Penguins Rock enclosure, which will see water slides and a beach built for the penguins.

In his online blog, chief executive of Edinburgh Zoo, Professor Chris West, said: “Kind donations have been gratefully received from across Scotland and the UK.

“Many people have purchased special footprint dedications for loved ones that will line the penguin parade route once the new enclosure has been developed. I’ve been delighted to see how well loved the penguins are.”

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Penguins Rock will feature a range of new features, including interactive elements and diving boards, as well 
as improved viewpoints for visitors.

Until its closure, the daily penguin parade was one of the most popular attractions at the zoo, which had the largest outdoor penguin pool in the world.

The parade began in 1951 when a keeper accidentally left the gate open. The penguins went for a short walk and then returned to their enclosure.

A daily penguin talk has been given at the zoo in the absence of the parade.

Following the discovery of the leak, the 160-bird colony had to be split up, with some being sent to Belfast, Denmark and England, although some stayed in the Capital. Then, it was said that 50 of the birds would never return.

As part of the new enclosure, there will also be a memorial plaque with names on a wall at the side of the enclosure 
showing all those who have supported the project.

Anyone willing to spend £250 can buy themselves a penguin footprint with their name on it.