by Ethan Stewart

Arguably the world’s most popular flightless bird had its
coming-out party at the Santa Barbara Zoo last week. After about
seven weeks in quarantine, nine Humboldt penguins made their first
public appearance last Friday to mark the official opening of the
new Crawford Family Penguin House. Native to the relatively
temperate waters of southern South America, the threatened birds
(there are fewer than 12,000 breeding pairs worldwide) have taken
up residence in the former pool and faux-rock walls that Cubby the
California sea lion once called home. While Cubby was shipped to
Texas to live with sea lions displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the
Humboldts arrived by bus from Sea World in San Diego. According to
zoo officials, plans are underway to bring in five more penguins by
July and five Inca terns later this month. A cool $10,000 donation
affords you naming rights on Santa Barbara’s newest species;
several of the birds already embrace new identities such as
Pee-gloo, Chadster, Bling, and Tom and Nancy, with the latter
honoring exhibit sponsors Tom and Nancy Crawford.


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