Zoo Forced to Use Plastic Penguins Because of Malaria Outbreak

If you happen to visit the Exotic Zoo in Telford, Shropshire, England, you might notice something a little odd when you reach the penguin exhibit. Due to a malaria outbreak, several captive penguins died nationwide. This led to a shortage of the aquatic, flightless bird. How did that impact places like zoos that keep these animals year-round? They ended up having to improvise.

Instead of shutting down the penguin exhibit altogether, the Telford Zoo decided to fill its habitat with plastic penguins. According to The Daily Star, the zoo had already been prepared to receive a new batch of Humboldt penguins after creating a new penguin enclosure, costing nearly 80K U.S. dollars. The staff even took a penguin keeper course in anticipation. But because of the national outbreak of malaria, zoo owner Scott Adams, 35, “said that he still had no idea when the penguins would be arriving, if ever, and so has been forced to instead stock the pool with six plastic models.” The plastic models will allow children to see what the birds look like and to learn more about them.

Since the enclosure created by the Telford Zoo was made specifically for penguins, they are unable to put another species in it. For now, they are hoping that healthy birds will arrive at their facility in the near future.