It’s So Cold in Canada That a Zoo Has to Bring Its Penguins Inside

Even penguins aren’t fully content with Canada’s current frosty weather. That’s why the Calgary Zoo in Alberta had to bring its penguins inside.

According to the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, zookeepers will bring penguins inside a warm shelter if the weather gets to 25 degrees below zero Celsius, and Calgary recently experienced temperatures of 28 degrees below zero Celsius, or 40 below, if you count windchill.

09_26_gentoo_penguin_2 A gentoo penguin tends two chicks at Cierva Cove in Antarctica. Maureen Lynch

The Calgary Zoo is home to a total of 51 Gentoo penguins, Humboldt Penguins, King Penguins and Rockhopper penguins. At some point every year, they are brought inside, and the cold snap had zookeepers doing so early.

"It's not necessarily that it's too cold for them," Calgary Zoo’s Malu Celli told The Globe and Mail. "I believe that physiologically, they can withstand colder weather than what we have here, but these are not wild birds."

While the penguins could play outside in the snow, the zoo staffers felt it could be risky to let a flock with a young chick brave the winter chills.

While some penguins live in the Antarctic or on Antarctic islands, others are from more temperate parts of the globe. Humboldt penguins are from the west coast of Chile and Peru. Unlike polar bears, penguins do not naturally live in arctic regions like the northern parts of Canada.

All penguins have down feathers to keep them warm, along with a layer of insulating fat. They also huddle together for warmth and keep their flippers close to their bodies to conserve heat.

The zoo is still open, but it did cancel its Zoo Lights event December 30-31. It’s so cold in Canada that other traditions are being pushed to the side as well. For instance, for the first time in 13 years, officials canceled the annual Polar Bear Plunge in Toronto, where brave swimmers would normally dive into frigid waters. This year, it’s just too cold.

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