What's black and white and warm all over? A penguin in a wetsuit, naturally. Sounds like a joke, but it's quite serious for biologists at the California Academy of Sciences, who had a wetsuit created for an African penguin to help him get back in the swim of things. Pierre, a venerable 25 years old, was going bald, which left him with an embarrassingly exposed, pale pink behind.
One concern was that the other penguins would reject Pierre in his new duds, but in fact, they accepted his sleek new look. Pierre was outfitted with the suit about six weeks ago. Since then, he has gained weight, grown back feathers on his hind parts and is again acting like his feisty, alpha-male self.
On a recent visit, Pierre waddled around the tank, taking brief dips and standing on a rock next to his mate. He blended in well, although he was the only penguin with a black tummy.
Schaller can't say for sure whether the wetsuit allowed Pierre to recover his fine feathers, but "certainly we were able to keep him comfortable during a period of time that would have been very difficult for him to stay comfortable."