Raducanu the penguin travels to Denmark in search of Valentine's Day love

14 penguin
Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 14/02/2022

- 15:50

Eight-month-old Raducanu, who was named in 2021 after the US Open tennis champion

A penguin named after the tennis star Emma Raducanu is to travel from London to Denmark in search of love.

Eight-month-old Raducanu, who was named in 2021 after the US Open tennis champion, will be alongside five other gentoo penguins making a 1,000-mile trip from the Sea Life London Aquarium to Legoland Billund in Denmark.

The penguins named Ramsey, Clarice, Potato, Chickpea and Marmalade will help form a new colony as part of Sea Life’s global conservation breeding programme.

The female penguins of the group will be matched up with male gentoos from different aquariums to form the new breeding colony, before finally moving to the Kattegatcentret Aquarium in Denmark, which they will eventually call home, in a new purpose-built habitat.

Catherine Pritchard, general manager at Sea Life London Aquarium, said: “Whilst we’re sad to be waving off six of our gentoo colony, we’re also incredibly proud to be able to play such a vital role in the future conservation of these amazing penguins.

“The continued success of our gentoo breeding programme here at Sea Life London Aquarium is down to the fantastic work of our expert animal care team and we can’t wait to follow the journeys of Ramsey, Clarice, Potato, Chickpea, Marmalade and Raducanu as they look for love in Europe and hopefully one day give birth to their very own chicks.”

It is important that once the young penguins are fully matured, they go on to join other colonies to find mates of their own because this will create a diverse gene pool, which is crucial to the success of the breeding programme.

Ahead of making the move to Denmark, the penguins will undergo a routine check of their feed, weight and health records, as well as a once-over from a specialist vet to ensure they are fit to travel.

When given the all clear, the six birds will travel in “sky kennels” which have been specially adapted with the penguins’ welfare in mind to ensure the move is as seamless as possible and they will be closely monitored by veterinary experts throughout.

Once overseas, the group will then be transported by Ventura Wildlife Services which will make the drive to the south coast before boarding the ferry to Caen and travelling through France, Belgium and Germany before reaching Denmark.

Populations of gentoo penguins have declined rapidly in recent years owing to the birds’ sensitive breeding nature and damage to their habitats from tourism, pollution and the illegal collection of their eggs.

The species has been listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list for many years.

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