Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Feisty, clean-footed penguins flying in

The Cincinnati Enquirer

King penguins stand 2 1/2 to 3 feet high and weigh 30-40 pounds.
        NEWPORT — Sixteen King penguins are making a 21-hour flight from southwestern Japan to the Newport Aquarium today, and they are expected to arrive in the wee hours Thursday morning.

        Will their little wings be tired!

        OK, so penguins can't fly. But these birds, eight males and eight females, are coming all the way from Adventure World near Shirihama, Japan, traveling by cargo jet with stops in Tokyo; Anchorage, Alaska; and Chicago before arriving at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        They will be the highlight of the aquarium's Kingdom of Penguins, an exhibit that contains 8,000 gallons of salt water and a snow-making machine to make the birds feel at home when the aquarium opens in May.

        Crystal Philipps, a senior aquatic biologist and penguin expert, spent two weeks in Japan selecting the 16 birds and learning more about them. She is flying back with the birds along with penguin consultant Scott Drieschman, who operates Wildlife Concepts International in Grants Pass, Ore.

        “Each bird has its own personality, to some extent,” Ms. Philipps said. “I tried to pick out the more feisty ones.”


        Ms. Philipps said she also looked for penguins with good, clean feet; with no feather damage; and with good stature both walking and sitting. She had some 150 King penguins to choose from at Adventure World.

        Mr. Drieschman and Ms. Philipps designed the penguins' transport containers made of wood and mesh fencing.

        “The trick to moving these birds is keeping them cool,” Mr. Drieschman said. “At the same time, you don't want them to be in an atmosphere that is too cold.” Their salt water at the aquarium will be 28 to 32 degrees.

        The 16 penguins will go directly from the airport to their aquarium exhibit area, where they will be quarantined for 30 days under U.S. Department of Agriculture scrutiny.


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