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winter 2007

Zoological Society of Milwaukee (WI)


Heather Nelder (left) talks about Humboldt penguins to the seventh graders.

Estar the Humboldt penguin was a star for a day at the Zoo. At least he was a star to students who visited him from Carl Traeger Middle School in Oshkosh last October. Which one is he? Is he the one swimming? Is he the one standing on the rock? As 45 seventh graders circle the Humboldt penguin exhibit at the Milwaukee County Zoo, they ask a zookeeper how to find “their penguin.”

Why is he their penguin? Because their school sponsors Estar. If a group of children sponsors an animal at the $100 level or higher, the group can get a special talk from the animal’s keeper. The children come to the Zoo for the talk.

So how do they find Estar? It’s simple, says Heather Neldner, a zookeeper who cares for birds. Estar is the one with the brown band on his RIGHT wing. Huh? Suddenly the students notice that each penguin has a color band on its wing. Males have bands on the right wing, females on the left, says Heather. Now she gets

in H u m b o t ld p e n g u lots of questions. What do the colors mean? Do the bands hurt? How many penguins are in the exhibit?

The bands don’t hurt, she says. To the pen- guins, they feel like bracelets. The colors identify each penguin or each penguin pair. Estar has a partner, Arisco, a female. She has a brown band, too, but it’s on her LEFT wing. The students quickly look through the penguin pool and rock mountain to find Arisco. There are 15 Humboldt penguins at the Zoo, Heather says. Now go to the Herb & Nada Mahler Family Aviary and find out what other types of pen- guins live at the Zoo, she suggests. The students are off to explore and to meet the other animals that they sponsor.

If you or your group would like to sponsor an animal, call Julie B. at the Zoological Society of Milwaukee,

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      By Eric Stelpflug

Kids Alive Winter 2007


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