Bald Penguin Got Himself a Wetsuit!

Meet Pierre, a 25-year-old Jackass penguin (because they bray like donkeys) who got too cold to swim because he was going bald. So, the biologists at the California Academy of Sciences made him a penguin wetsuit!

Pierre, a venerable 25 years old, was going bald, which left him with an embarrassingly exposed, pale pink behind.

Unlike marine mammals, which have a layer of blubber to keep them warm, penguins rely on their waterproof feathers. Without them, Pierre was unwilling to plunge into the academy's penguin tank and ended up shivering on the sidelines while his 19 peers played in the water.

"He was cold; he would shake," said Pam Schaller, a senior aquatic biologist at the academy. [...]

Staff at Oceanic Worldwide, a supplier of dive gear based in San Leandro, were enthusiastic about making a real penguin suit.

"We were really excited to do it," said Teo Tertel, company marketing specialist. "We heard most of these penguins only live to 20, and our little buddy there was already 25. Anything we could do to help them, we were all for it."

And the wetsuit did Pierre a world of wonders:

One concern was that the other penguins would reject Pierre in his new duds, but in fact, they accepted his sleek new look.

Pierre was outfitted with the suit about six weeks ago. Since then, he has gained weight, grown back feathers on his hind parts and is again acting like his feisty, alpha-male self.

Link: News article at Yahoo! News by Michelle Locke (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP Photo) - Thanks Tiffany!

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I don't know too much about penguins, but birds in general tend to loose feathers when they are sad or stressed. Maybe that is it?
And yeah, he would have been dead in the wild long ago, but since he is in human care, it's our responsibility to do what we can to help these animals be as comfortable as they can in as natural a habitat as possible. I see nothing wrong with giving this little penguin a wetsuit. It would be cruel to let him freeze!
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Penguins wearing things are so cute! Remember the penguin sweaters? There is even a pattern on the website so you can knit your own penguin sweater and send it to a needy penguin!
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In nature, Pierre would have been dead years ago. Penguins live about 15 years in the wild, 20 in captivity. Pierre was going on his 25th birthday, and was patriarch of his colony. Yeah, yeah, natural selection blah blah.

As for the cause of his baldness, the medical tests the scientists at CAS performed were inconclusive, but he started growing his feathers back about six weeks after wearing the suit. :)

Another happy story, including an interview with the scientist that takes care of Pierre:

He's a trooper! :D
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