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Bristol Zoo Gardens’ hand-reared African penguin, Mimi is three on Saturday (Sept 9) and keepers have created a frozen fish birthday cake to mark the occasion.
All 52 of the Zoo's colony gathered on the beach at the penguin enclosure for feeding time but as usual Mimi was the first in line to receive her share.
Mimi has a unique personality as a result of being hand-reared and has become well known among staff and visitors as the colony's most inquisitive penguin.
Bird keeper Andy Cope said: “Because she is such a character Mimi is a favourite among keepers. She has a special place in all of our hearts and many of the Zoo visitors regularly come to see her.
"Most African Penguins breed for the first time around the age of four. African Penguins form lifelong breeding pairs so it is hoped that Mimi will find her partner soon.”
Many of the penguins at Bristol Zoo are currently sitting on eggs, so keepers are hoping for plenty of new arrivals this autumn.
The popular Seal and Penguin Coasts exhibit at Bristol Zoo was designed to emulate the coastal shores that African penguins occupy in the wild, with pebbled beaches, tall rocky slopes and a salt water pool.
Andy said "Despite the uneven pebbled ground and her webbed feet, Mimi always manages to keep up and stick close to us when we're in the enclosure.”
The best time to see Mimi is during feeding time at 3pm when her inquisitive nature sets her apart from the rest of the colony.
Wild African Penguin numbers have dropped to less than 10 per cent of the population that existed in 1900 due to reduced availability of fish for them to eat in the oceans.
Bristol Zoo is working with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to increase African penguin numbers. SANCCOB rescue and hand-rear abandoned penguin chicks until they are ready to be released back into their wild colonies.
At Seal & Penguin Coasts visitors can view penguins and their neighbours, the South American fur seals, on land and underwater. Walkways underneath the coast provide crystal clear views of these animals darting through the water, immersed in their aquatic habitat.
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