Pierre, a 25-year-old penguin that resides at the California Academy of Sciences in California, had a big problem. In late 2006, he started to lose his waterproof feathers, especially around his head and tail.
For Penguins losing their feathers is a big deal, since that is how they keep themselves warm and also how other Penguins recognize them.
As the bald patches became more obvious, poor Pierre started to be teased by other penguins and also couldn't swim as much because he was so cold.
Finally Pam Schaller, a senior aquatic biologist couldn't take it any more. She set out to find a solution for Pierre. She first tried using a heat lamp - but that didn't work. Then she had a really bright idea. Surfers used wetsuits to keep warm, why couldn't Pierre? She contacted Oceanic Worldwide, the biggest makers of wetsuits in the world, who were more than happy to help. It took a few tries to get it right, but since the last six weeks Pierre has been thriving in his wet suit.
He has put on a little weight and is now able to swim without getting cold. Despite his "black" stomach", his buddies think he is cool again and have stopped picking on him. However, the most amazing thing is that his features are starting to grow back, thanks to the wetsuit - something that was never expected. Lately Pierre has been even attempting to get into the water without his wetsuit.
Needless to say, the folks at the California Academy of Sciences are thrilled at the outcome as is Pierre!