Yellow Pink's Story

Yellow Pink, a 14-year-old male African penguin, wears his custom neoprene wetsuit on exhibit at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn. He will wear his wetsuit while swimming until he grows new feathers.

African penguins’ dense feathers (70 per square inch) protect them from the cold and are coated with oil from a gland located at the base of their tail. Every year they typically experience “catastrophic molting,” which includes shedding and growing all new feathers over a two-week period. This adaptation allows them to swim after completing the cycle, insulated and resistant to water.

Sometimes molting doesn’t proceed as expected. Such is Yellow Pink’s plight at Mystic Aquarium. Though healthy, the 14-year-old male is displaying “premature feather loss,” or the loss of feathers and absence of new feather growth. As the cold New England winter approached, the aquarium’s animal care team knew he needed help to stay warm.

The answer? A custom neoprene wetsuit designed and created by Mystic Aquarium’s penguin trainers, veterinarians and research scientists.

Made from one of Mystic Aquarium’s old diving wetsuits, Yellow Pink will wear the wetsuit while swimming until he molts and grows new feathers.

PHOTO CREDIT: Abigail Pheiffer

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