The Sea World Penguin Encounter is a popular place. The cool, dimly lit room has plenty of space to stand and watch the birds interact with each other, swim,, frolic and just get down and play. You will also see the birds, every now and then, catch sight of a human and follow them, respond to them.
Ms. Schiavoni-Gibbons states that even in the wild, they are not afraid of humans and actually seem to enjoy approaching and interacting with them. Which may have led to their downfall, however thanks to increased awareness and groups dedicate to saving natural habitats the penguin populations are returning to healthy levels.
But with Global Warming, scientists warn, that could change as warmer waters cause reduction in the fish supply, it become harder for the chicks to survive as they become a food of choice and are unable to find the food stock they need to survive.
The Alcid family of birds is a group of stocky black-and-white seabird that includes the Puffin. Sailors who ate the eggs and birds, harvesting their feather for fashion use, hunted the Puffin to near extinction in the late 1800’s.
These birds live in Northern Hemisphere colonies along the rocky coasts of the North Atlantic and Pacific and Artic oceans cramming themselves amongst the ledges. While the Alcid family can fly, they are most comfortable in the water, spending the first 3-5 years of their lives without ever touching land.
“They have short stubby wings and can fly short distances,” Ms. Schiavoni-Gibbons says. “Today the North Atlantic Puffin is at risk and there is an combined effort of environmentalists and the Audubon Society to reestablish the birds from the more robust colonies in Iceland and Greenland.”
“Fortunately we are a conscious society, and we are more aware of what is happening in our environment and we are certainly helping to change the environment. We need to continue to find ways to stop negative influences like cars and pollution, while continuing to be aware of what is happening in the environment and trying to protect these wildlife habitats,” Ms. Schiavoni-Gibbons says.
A class meets a group of penguins (Photo courtesy of SeaWorld)
Being able to get a close up view of these wonderful birds is a treat and a first step in learning to appreciate, and protect, our global environments. SeaWorld Orlando, in their ongoing educational mission, has daily questions and answer periods that are quite popular. During these periods one family is awarded the opportunity to interact, and feed, the birds.
All this combines to make a day at SeaWorld more than just another theme park visit. It is day spent gather information, both actively and passively, that our world is special, as are the many species of animals, known and unknown that inhabit it.
Behind the scenes tours require advanced reservations and guests should visit the SeaWorld web site for additional information.