TADA! Do you like my new look?
Hey, you know the joke - What's Black and White and Read all over? A newspaper! Except in this case the correct answer to that joke is a bald sunburnt penguin named Ralph, who lives at Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire, England.
Like all penguins, Ralph loses his feathers every year, but while the rest of his clan sheds them over a period of four to six weeks, the 10-year-old Humboldt penguin seems to lose his, in just a few days - which means he remains bald for a few weeks, until the new feathers have time to grow in.
With his pale skin exposed to the sun, poor Ralph could easily get sunburnt and often had to be moved indoors - Until the folks at the Marwell Wildlife came up with an great solution - A wetsuit!
The custom suit is made out of a soft gel-like material called neoprene and, has Ralph's name printed on it. The material expands so that Ralph can move around normally. They also added Velcro to the suit so that when his new feathers start growing, it can be expanded.
Ralph has been wearing his suit for a year now and he and his partner Cora seem quite happy with his new attire - Other penguins also seem to swarm around him when he is wearing it - probably jealous of his cool look!
Humboldt penguins, native to Peru and Chile get their name from the cold Humboldt water current that runs from the Antarctica to the Equator. Also known as Peruvian Penguins, they live on the rocky mainland shores and do not migrate. They can live up to 20 years in the wild and as many as 30, in captivity. Like a lot of animals they are also on the endangered list, thanks to lack of food caused by over-fishing on the coast of Peru and Chile. It is estimated that there only between 3,300 to 12,000 of these amazingly cute birds left in the world! Boo Hoo!
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