Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

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The Great Unexplained Mass Penguin Migration of '02-'03

Five years ago, in December 2002, the penguins at the San Francisco Zoo went nuts:
They've all been swimming since Christmas Eve, whirling around the pool like tuxedos in a washing machine. No one knows why they started or when they'll stop. All they know is that the zoo's Penguin Island has turned into a very chaotic place.

"Round and round they go," [penguin caretaker Jane] Tollini said. "They almost make me dizzy."

...What she can't tell you is why her birds won't get out of the water -- especially the "geezers" and "old ladies" she suspects are getting pretty tired by now.

One is a humpback, some have bone spurs, and nine of the original penguins, back in the early '80s, made a real migration along the coast of South America -- putting in six months and 2,000 miles.

"Now they're thinking, 'Didn't we just see that palm tree?' " Tollini said. "Some of them haven't swum this much in five years."
What stopped all this swmming? Swiving:
The 52 penguins at the San Francisco Zoo have finally decided they have better things to do than hang around the pool all day, swimming in circles. Now, it's time to hang around the house.

They're burrowing in, getting ready to breed. And their mysterious mock migration is over, for the least mysterious of reasons.

"The urge to merge won out over everything," said penguin keeper Jane Tollini.
This whole saga? It just tickled me.

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