March 10, 2021
- as seen by -Jennifer Rant
He is a black-footed penguin (Spheniscus demersus) that hatched a few days before Thanksgiving in 2014 at WCS’s New York Aquarium. His wild animal keepers came up with his name by combining favorite foods of the holiday. It turned out to be the perfect choice for this charismatic penguin.
“Squashberry is loyal, determined, likes his privacy, and prefers to keep the neighbors away. He is protective of his property and is a good mate to female penguin Finn. He has classic good looks. The year he hatched was one of the worst winters so he is a tough penguin. He is one of my favorite penguins and such a stand out character,” says Wild Animal Keeper Stephanie Mitchell.
Black-footed penguins can dive to depths of about 400 feet and hold their breath over two minutes. Their bodies are streamlined and torpedo-shaped which allows them to propel easily through the water. These medium-sized penguins can reach speeds around 13 miles per hour and swim over 40 miles in search of food. In the wild, black-footed penguins are endangered as they face threats like overfishing, pollution, and other human activities.
At the aquarium, penguins have two feeds a day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During each feed, a keeper provides herring and capelin at a social gathering of these birds. Squashberry’s personal preference is herring.
When visiting the New York Aquarium, stop by the penguins and see if you can spot Squashberry. He has beautiful ivy above his burrow.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate Women’s History Month, Wild View is featuring posts by and about women and their contributions to science and conservation throughout March.