"...they will have made of the ridiculous a little religion, and out of Penguinity brought peace." - Eaton

July 5, 2009

How do you buy a penguin?

The Kuwait Times recently interviewed the head of a local aquarium involved with the acquisition of penguins:

KUWAIT: Penguins live in Antarctica. At least that was my initial idea about penguins that some readers probably had as well. But, not all penguins live in the southern hemisphere, which is the coldest point on earth. Although most penguins are from Antarctica, there are several species of penguins that can live or tolerate warmer temperatures. Such species are African penguins. Eight of these penguins (four male and four female) are now being exhibited at the Kuwait Scientific Center in Salmiya. The center will be their home for the rest of their lives. Kuwait Times met with Salah Behbehani, the head keeper for the penguins, to learn a bit more about Kuwait's newest expatriates.

KT: Can you tell us how the Scientific Center acquired African penguins?

Behbehani: Acquiring penguins was not an easy task for the Scientific Center. Prior to approval, the center was subjected to a series of inspections by a team of experts from the European Association for Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), where we are registered as a member. EAZA keeps records of animals who have been born or died in captivity, but they also distribute animals to their members. When the center decided to welcome penguins, EAZA immediately inspected our facilities and trained people to care for the
penguins.

KT: What other procedures have you completed to acquire the penguins?

Behbehani: Prior to shipping penguins to Kuwait, I spent weeks at the Living Coast Aquarium in the United Kingdom. My task was to get closer to the penguins and get to know them well by learning about the way they move, their environment, their traits and attitudes and the food they eat. I am glad to have had real training from EAZA. When I came back from the UK, I was assigned to head the team of penguin keepers. I trained them and helped them understand penguin's traits and attitudes. I trained them in everything about penguins - from food to caring for penguins. I also secured documents and took care of paperwork, which was needed to make sure that the penguins were properly handled and that they would arrive here in Kuwait safe and sound. Upon arrival in Kuwait, the government here inspected the penguins with a team of veterinarian doctors. The procedure was normal for all living animals entering the country and it ensured that the animals were properly handled and that no diseases or sicknesses were carried by them.

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