Does he like his shoe? He doesn’t even seem to notice it, which means we did a really good job. He gets along just fine.
Can he swim in it? Absolutely. It was designed by Teva specifically to go in and out of the water. That was our biggest challenge in the beginning. Before we got a boot, we were using splint material and gauze, which was trapping moisture against his foot, and he couldn’t have access to water freely like a penguin should. The fact that it goes in and out of the water was one of the biggest successes of that boot.
How many pairs does he have? Right now he’s got probably close to 30. We can take them off everyday as needed and wash them and let them dry out. It’s a little bit better for his foot to get a dry one on every day.
What do visitors to the zoo say? The visitors always want to know what happened to him. The next most common question is, ‘Does he get picked on?’ And he really doesn’t. He’s come into the colony as any other juvenile bird would. He’s acted like any other penguin chick I’ve ever brought back to the exhibit, and I’ve been raising penguins for almost 11 years. He just fit right in and there was almost no difference.
Are the other penguins jealous? I don’t think so. We were pretty strategic about when we brought him back to the exhibit. We brought him back during nesting season while the birds have other things on their mind. We also brought him back with two new birds. Now that nesting season is ending, none of the other penguins seem to be paying attention him beyond, ‘You’re in my spot’ or ‘I want that fish.’