Whilst much of the UK have now overcome their bad hair disasters post-lockdown, for the Gentoo penguin colony at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham it’s not over yet, as they experience their own bad hair day - with what is known as a ‘catastrophic moult’.

Alan Kwan, Displays Supervisor at the aquarium comments: ‘Moulting is a normal part of the development in healthy, happy penguins like ours, it simply means that the old feathers are replaced by shiny new ones. Feathers are literally flying around the enclosure at the moment!’

The yearly moult takes around 14 days per penguin, with each penguin starting at slightly different times across the summer.

‘With different birds starting at different times, it means penguins who’ve finished the moult will be showing off their new coats – much to the disapproval of those still dealing with their moulting feather fiasco!’

Unlike other aquatic birds that generally lose their feathers one or two at a time, when a penguin’s plumes are ready to shed it happens all at once leaving the birds in an unfortunate state of undress; looking like a bunch of exploding pillows.

‘During this process, the special waxes the penguins usually create to waterproof their feathers aren’t produced so the birds stay on land and forgo the regular dives and swims they’re so renowned for.

‘The Gentoos also lose their appetite during the moult, although in the weeks before it occurs, they gorge themselves on plenty of oily and nutrient rich fish to help build up the natural fat reserves that protect them from the cool Antarctic climate they thrive in.’

For further information or to buy tickets online to see the Gentoos with their feathers a-flutter during their moult, visit www.sealife.co.uk/birmingham.

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