Pet-suit: bald penguin wears specially designed wetsuit to keep it warm in winter
Meet Ralph the bald penguin who gets so cold in winter he has to wear a WETSUIT.
The 16-year-old Humboldt loses all of his feathers in one go – compared to over a few weeks – making him more vulnerable to tumbling temperatures.
In a drastic attempt to protect him and keep him close to family and friends, surfing super brand O’Neill designed a snug suit complete with holes for his wings and head.
The flexible rubber wetsuit – complete with his name on the back – allows Ralph to play with his pals at Marwell Wildlife, near Winchester, Hants.
Anna Ing, Team leader for birds, said: “Ralph is a very healthy bird, but for some reason, during his annual moult, he loses his feathers quicker than other penguins.
“Every year is different for Ralph and we can never be sure when he will lose his feathers.
“As soon as he starts looking bald we put the wetsuit on him to keep him warm on colder evenings.
“Every year is different and we can never be sure when he will lose his feathers but, as soon as he starts, we put the wetsuit on him.”
Penguins normally moult over a period of around three weeks when their old feathers are replaced with a new, clean set.
Despite being otherwise healthy, Ralph has baffled keepers by losing all his feathers in just one day, leaving him bald, apart from his head.
As a result, not only does he get really cold, it leaves his exposed skin more susceptible to sunburn.
Ralph has had two wetsuits since getting his first one over five years ago, which was made from the leg of a suit donated by a member of park staff.
Due to the regular swimming, climbing and preening, his current wetsuit is getting a bit tatty and staff want to get him a new one.
Anna said: “Ralph does need a new suit as he’s a very active penguin.
“Not only that, he and his partner carol love preening it just like they would his real feathers.”