A penguin has become a ‘guide-bird’ for a fellow African Penguin with poor eyesight, escorting her around their enclosure to get food and build confidence.
The animal helper named ‘Penguin’ has bonded with ‘Squid’ the three-year-old that suffers from cataracts, a debilitating condition that clouds the lens of the eye.
Squid is often disoriented during busy feeding times and relies on Penguin’s “unwavering calmness”.
Penguin has become Squid’s beacon, guiding her around the enclosure and acting as her ‘eyes’.
The hand-reared birds are now inseparable—to the delight of their human keepers at Birdworld who are sharing their remarkable relationship.
“The intuitive behavior observed between Penguin and Squid has revealed a remarkable level of empathy and understanding, showcasing the profound connections that can form within the animal kingdom,” said Polly Branham a spokesperson for the aviary in Surrey, England.
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When Squid was hatched, she displayed the typical lively and vocal traits of a penguin chick, despite developing cataracts at just six weeks old—a unique occurrence within her otherwise healthy family.
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Having been nurtured within the colony, Squid honed her skills alongside her peers—learning the essence of being a penguin—but she used to be quite anxious about approaching the fish bucket at feeding time.
“The excitement of the other penguins created a more unpredictable environment, and she would shy away from this for fear of getting caught in the crossfire of beaks,” explained Branham. “That is how Penguin has been such an enormous help to her.
“His stability was something she could rely on, the base from which she has steadily expanded her world.”
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Senior Penguin Keeper, Natalie Marshall said of the inspiring duo, “We didn’t expect Penguin and Squid to form such a close bond, and it’s evident that Penguin’s resilience significantly influenced Squid’s self-assurance.”
“Given that she has not known any different, Squid has adjusted without realizing, and we see in the way she walks (stooping forwards) and how she behaves around the other penguins (being taken by surprise if approached from a blind spot) that she compensates and is fully integrated into the colony.”
Although cataracts are an operable condition in some penguin cases, the staff believes she is thriving without it.
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Birdworld is one of the UK’s largest bird parks, and is home to over 150 species of birds, some of which are facing extinction.
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