Archive | December 27, 2010

Penguins at Jurong Bird Park

We visited Jurong Bird Park last Saturday to check out its newly refurbished Penguin Coast exhibit.

The park has just acquired some African penguins. Also known as jackass penguins, they are one of the few species of penguins that live in tropical conditions and are housed in an outdoor exhibit where you can get pretty close up to view them.

Image credits:

To accompany the launch of the new exhibit, a whole host of events was lined up, including a Penguin Wonderland, penguin party, feeding sessions, a snow fountain, face painting and crafting activities like sand art and penguin craft.

As a family, we don’t care very much for face painting, mascots or long queues for entry into a party, but there was a really interesting Penguin Corner where they displayed a preserved penguin. You could examine a real set of feet and flippers, which I personally found very interesting.

I really think that children in Singapore are very fortunate. There are ample opportunities for experiential learning, and the national parks and library board are always coming up with wonderful holiday enrichment programs.

So it was a bit of a shame that the Penguin Corner was a little off to the side. The majority of people were bustling round the sand art area, and the mascots. Oh well, our gain anyway as it meant we didn’t have to crowd with people and the children could take their time mustering up their courage to touch the exhibits.

Did you know…

  • The bones of the penguin’s flippers are flattened and broadened, which forms a tapered, flat shape suited to swimming.
  • Each flipper is covered in short and stiff tiny scale like feathers, arrayed in a uniformly overlapping fashion and very densely packed to help keep water away from the skin. Tufts of down on the feather shafts help provide further insulation from cold.
  • Penguins have more feathers than most birds, about 100 feathers per square inch!
  • A penguin’s legs are short and set far back on the body to aid in streamlining and steering while swimming. Their feet are webbed and have visible claws.
  • Penguins’ feet and flippers are kept warm through a really nifty solution. The muscles that operate their feet and flippers are not located in the feet and flippers, but deeper in the warmer regions of the penguin’s body.  This means that it doesn’t matter if the feet and flippers get really cold as they can still be operated normally by regions that are fully functional and at normal body temperature.  God has designed a heat exchange blood flow process that ensures that warm blood entering the feet and flippers flows past cold blood leaving.  So by the time the cold blood enters the rest of the body, it has been warmed up.  No fear of frostbite!