Al Ain Zoo has marked World Penguin Day by celebrating its efforts to protect penguin species and highlight that many are at risk of extinction.
One such species, the zoo noted, is the Humboldt penguin, currently listed as 'vulnerable' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Declining Humboldt population numbers are as a result of over-fishing, climate change, habitat destruction and ocean acidification.
Al Ain Zoo said that it currently has 55 penguins, which live freely within a display area of 150 square metres in an environment identical to their natural habitat. A swimming pool that is up to three metres deep was designed according to international specifications and has a 24-hour filtration system to ensure clean water and safety measures for both the penguins and visitors, it noted in a press statement.
One of the zoo’s recent strategies to protect the Humboldt penguins is an artificial intelligence system that is used to identify the birds individually by their face or skin. The system can check and view each penguin’s record and medical files separately through associated mobile systems.
Last February, the zoo announced a series of future projects, including the Penguins Beach, which is 275 square metres and is the first external exhibition of penguins in the Middle East. There are both internal and external displays, with a pool and a beach. Visitors can enter the beach area and directly interact with the penguins.
Al Ain Zoo is taking on the responsibility to raise awareness within the UAE community about conservation efforts to protect penguin species via educational programmes.
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