India’s first Humboldt Penguins reach Mumbai zoo

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Mumbai, July 26 (IANS) A tiny colony of Humboldt Penguins, including three males, three females and two female babies, arrived at the Mumbai zoo from Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, an official said.

This will be the first time the flightless penguins will be exhibited in any Indian zoo. They belong to the South American species found in the cold coasts of Chile and Peru.

Mumbai Zoo — known as Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan — has acquired the birds from a zoo in Seoul for around Rs 2 crore, as part of its ambitious Rs 2.50 crore modernisation plan, said an official.

After arriving on a flight, the birds were shifted to a refrigerated van and taken to Mumbai Zoo around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, accompanied by a special caretaker.

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The Humboldts will remain quarantined in a special enclosure for at least the next 90 days to acclimatize them to Indian conditions and the change of location.

This species of penguins can withstand temperatures of between 4-24 degrees C and the quarantine area will provide this controlled temperature range for the next three months.

They are likely to be placed as the Mumbai Zoo’s prestigious exhibits by November after their acclimatization spell, during which they will not come in contact with anybody barring the caretaker.

The plans to acquire and exhibit penguins here was announced by the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-led civic body after the 2012 BMC elections. The promise has materialised just before the upcoming civic polls in early 2017.

The penguin project has been personally monitored by top civic officials, including Yuva Sena chief, Aditya Thackeray.

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