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Warning Over 'Exploding Pillow' Penguins

Tuesday 6th August 2013

Visitors to the Sea Life London Aquarium are being warned not to be alarmed by penguins who look like exploding pillows.

One of the penguinsThe group of ten Gentoo penguins are moulting - but they shed all their feathers at once in what is called a "catastophic" moult.

"It is a perfectly natural process that lasts around three weeks but undoubtedly the penguins do look very different as their new feathers begin to grow on top of their old ones and the old ones eventually shed," said Lucy Buckley, from the aquarium.

"We put up signs in the area to help guests understand what is happening as the creatures, quite understandably and again totally naturally, can also get a bit moody during moulting."

"In fact, they can resemble surly irritable teenagers having a bad hair day - a bit like Harry Enfield's characters Kevin and Perry."

The moult begins with the penguins eating much more food than usual as once they have shed the feathers they will not be waterproof so will be unable to return to the water for several weeks while their new feathers grow.