Penguins waddle into Holiday StrollWhile they often conjure up images of icebergs and snow, two visiting penguins were avoiding the cold during the 11th annual Holiday Stroll on Friday evening.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
While they often conjure up images of icebergs and snow, two visiting penguins were avoiding the cold during the 11th annual Holiday Stroll on Friday evening.
Dee and Ruby, African Black-footed penguins, waited inside Bluff Country Yoga on Third Street as crowds of people stopped by to see and pet them and step out of the cold.
Like many who attend the Holiday Stroll, the penguins were visitors to Red Wing. They came from the Hemker Park & Zoo in Freeport, Minn. But they’re used to a climate found even farther away.
“They’re from the tip of South Africa,” zoo director Heidi Roering, who brought the penguins to Red Wing, said of the breed. “They actually like it warm. That’s why we’re inside.”
There are 17 species of penguins, Roering said, and only five are cold-weather birds.
This is the first time the penguins have been a part of the Holiday Stroll, and they were a hit. There was a line out the door with roughly a half-hour wait.
“I knew there’d be a lot of people but I didn’t think it’d be this much,” Roering said.
And visitors weren’t disappointed.
“They’re little but they’re really cute,” Elise Johnson, age 8, said of the penguins. “And fuzzy.”
People often expect the penguins to be rubbery or tough, Roering said, but they are covered in hundreds of feathers that keep them warm.
The 3-year-old penguins like the attention of visitors, Roering said.
“They love people. … This is an enrichment program for them,” she said. “They were so excited to come. They were chattering the whole way here.”
Still, they stayed close to Roering as the visitors filled the room.
“I’m Mom to them,” she said.
The two penguins also won’t be lonely when Roering is busy. They are married to each other, she said.
“They mate for life.”
The penguins weren’t the only animals to delight at this year’s Holiday Stroll. The event sprawled through downtown Red Wing an included sleigh rides from reindeer and horses. The annual event also included a parade, tree lighting, Santa, treats from local vendors, a live Nativity, carolers and many other activities.