4.9.09

RALPH'S NEW
SUIT

Aah, bless!

A bald penguin called Ralph is enjoying a new lease of life
at a Hampshire wildlife park after being fitted
with his own tailor-made wetsuit.

Unlike the rest of the colony of Humboldt penguins,
which lose their old feathers gradually, nine-year-old
Ralph's always fall out in one day.

It leaves him at severe risk of sunburn and he
faced being kept indoors for three weeks
until his new set had grown.

David White, assistant manager of Penguin World at
Marwell, near Winchester, said: "Ralph is perfectly
healthy so we don't know why his
feathers all drop out at once."


He and his colleagues had thought about covering
him in suncream but decided it
would wash off in water.


Then they hit on the wetsuit idea and fashioned
him the rubber outfit from the
leg of a man's wetsuit.


"Ralph must be the first scuba penguin but he
seems so at ease that we've been thinking maybe
we should get him a mask and snorkel
as well," said Mr White.


Keeper Helen Jeffreys added: "Ralph's really taken
to his new suit. It's not inhibiting him in any way.
He's just getting on with his daily business. All the
other penguins were intrigued by his new clothes
and they spent a good while checking him out.
But when they realised it was still Ralph under
the suit they seemed quite happy and don't
really pay it any attention any more."


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