SeaWorld seamstress comes to the aid of featherless penguin

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ORLANDO, Fl. —  “I think it’s amazing to be able to take everyday technology and use it to be able to help us care for the animals.”

T. J. Dray is an aviculturist at SeaWorld Orlando.

He’s talking about technology like this:  a wetsuit for a penguin!”

The wardrobe team at Sea World designed a special wetsuit for a featherless penguin.
The wardrobe team at SeaWorld designed a special wetsuit for a featherless penguin.

“Adelie is one of our penguins who is going through some feather loss, something that can happen in natural habitats and wild populations, and can be so detrimental to them.”

As a result of her feather-loss, the bird had a hard time naturally regulating her body temperature. Luckily, somebody realized SeaWorld has a costuming department!

“They come to me to make a wetsuit for the penguin!”

The penguin pros worked with Maria Barreto, a wardrobe craftsperson, and created a wetsuit to mimic a coat of feathers. Call it a custom fit wetsuit- that’s for the birds!

“We’re hoping the wetsuit is going to be able to take the place of what the wetsuit would provide. The feathers aren’t there, the wetsuit will be there, it’s going to keep her warm, especially in the water.”

Dray explains that penguins live almost 3/4 of their lives in the water.

Maria is pleased to have had a part in helping the little penguin.

“I’m happy that everything’s going okay, and they approve, and she can wear it to keep her warm. Very nice, yeah.”

“We care for each of these penguins individually, so being able to make that kind of difference for her is really cool.”

 

You can spot this special penguin at SeaWorld Orlando's Antarctica: Emipre of the Penguin exhibit.
You can spot this special penguin at SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica: Emipre of the Penguin exhibit.

While wearing her wetsuit, this fearless, featherless, female swims, sleeps and eats alongside her fellow penguins.

“And now with that wetsuit she’s going to be in there and able to keep warm.”

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