Ralph, a 13-year-old Humboldt penguin at Marwell Wildlife in the UK, is in need of a new wetsuit. As noted in the New York Daily News, Ralph has a “mysterious condition” that results in him shedding his feathers in the space of a few days, exposing his bare skin to the sun.
In contrast, penguins usually molt once a year and over a period of four to six weeks.
To keep him warm in the icy climate of his enclosure and to protect him from sunburn, zookeepers have given Ralph his own wetsuit. His first suit was made from the leg of a suit donated by a staff member.
Publicizing Ralph’s condition led to someone donating a custom-made wetsuit with velcro closures for Ralph in 2010. But as zookeeper Anna Ing says,
“Unfortunately Ralph’s wetsuit is fraying around the edges and coming apart at the seams.
“The wetsuit gets good use, Ralph is a bouncy character who is always out on the rocks exploring. He regularly grooms the wetsuit, just as he would with his feathers, and his partner, Coral the penguin, is often seen grooming it too!”
Collection Manager David White has again sought to publicize Ralph’s condition, in the hope that he might be provided with a new suit. He notes that, aside from losing his feathers so quickly and all at once, Ralph is very healthy. Here’s Ralph, in his well-worn wetsuit:
Perhaps it’s too much to ask, but hopefully whoever might assist in providing Ralph with a new wetsuit might consider making him two so he’ll have a back-up?
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