Romance at Hellabrunn

Two stately King penguins are the latest additions at Hellabrunn Zoo. The males, Willem and Shadow’s Pride from Rotterdam, are feeding themselves up on fish and will eventually be used for breeding, however so far they’ve only met their potential partners over a dividing wall.

The two royal newcomers are still looking around the newly-built penguin enclosure a bit puzzled. The 10-year-old King penguin with the poetic name Shadow’s Pride and his 14-year-old companion Willem moved to Hellabrunn on 9 October 2013.

Big things are expected of them here: they will balance out the gender ratio of three females to one male and thereby ensure that the King penguins breed sooner or later. That would make the penguin enclosure much livelier than before. To date there are 14 Rockhopper penguins and 7 Gentoo penguins cavorting alongside the now 6 King penguins on the artificial rocky landscape and in the icy water.

The two King penguins have settled in fairly quickly. Their new surroundings stopped them eating at first. “That was probably the language barrier,” joked Polar World’s manager, Helmut Kern. “They didn’t understand Bavarian and I can’t speak Dutch!”

In the meantime they have developed a healthy appetite for fish and the language problems have disappeared. Both are already conversing excitedly with their fellow penguins in the neighbouring enclosure from whom they are separated by a barrier. As soon as all the veterinary checks have been completed the male and female King penguin will finally be able to look into each other’s eyes after weeks of communicating over a partition. A little bit of romance at Hellabrunn’s Polar World.