1. ITV Report

Meet the Mafia! Four vulnerable penguins become latest residents at zoo

Credit: Folly Farm

A group of penguins are the newest residents to arrive at a specialist penguin centre at a zoo in Pembrokeshire.

The bachelor group of four macaroni penguins have been named the 'Macaroni Mafia' and are made up of Tony the Don, Vinny the Voice, Frankie the Fish and Little Nico.

The clan moved to Folly Farm from a zoo and aquarium in Torquay. They will be living in harmony with the zoo's existing group of Humboldt penguins at the £500,000 penguin habitat which is set over two acres.

Best known for their distinctive yellow crest feathers and prominent orange beak, the macaroni penguin is a large species of penguin found in the Sub-Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula.

Its common name is thought to have been inspired by the term ‘Macaroni’ which was used in 18th-century Britain to describe a man whose style of dress was flamboyant and excessively ornamented.

Macaroni penguins live on cliffs and rocky areas above the ocean and get around by hopping, rather than waddling. They can live up to 20 years.

Macaroni numbers have decreased by 30% in the last 30 years.

The species is classed as vulnerable, meaning they likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival such as climate change, commercial fishing, and oil pollution change.

Folly Farm hope to soon begin its own conservation breeding programme and is on the waiting list for females.

We’ve really been looking forward to the arrival of the macaroni penguins and it’s been great getting to know their personalities over the past few weeks. They definitely live up to their namesake – they’re a very proud species and spend a lot of time preening, but they’re also very gentle and a real pleasure to work with.

Tonyis definitely the Don. You can tell the others really admire him, they all follow his lead. Vinny is the vainest one of the group, he loves looking in the mirror and likes to help clean the enclosure by chasing after the brushes. Nicky fancies himself a bit of a stud, he likes to show off on the rock in the middle of the pool, and Frankie spends most of his time following Tony around learning the ropes.

It’s also really satisfying to know that we’re helping in the conservation of a vulnerable species of penguin. We’re looking forward to introducing them to the public and hope our visitors love them as much as we do!”

– Catrin Thomas, penguin keeper at Folly Farm