Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Penguin burrows get spring-clean

Zookeepers have to clean out penguin burrows ready for the new breeding season

If you are reluctantly considering a spot of spring-cleaning, spare a thought for zookeepers.

They have 30 smelly penguin burrows to clean - and they do it lying face down in wet sand with a garden rake, surrounded by dozens of angry birds.

Keepers at Living Coasts in Torquay, Devon, need to clean out the African penguin burrows ready for the new breeding season.

Keeper Amy Fitzgerald explained: "We clean the burrows at this time of year as most of the penguins have a little break from breeding.

"Also, staff have a little more time to do jobs like this when there are fewer visitors."

The keepers go in armed with a garden rake, bucket, brush and scoop, bin bag, disinfectant and shovel.

"We make sure the burrow is empty, then we lie on the sand and use the rake to pull out all the old nesting material, dirty sand and sticks," Miss Fitzgerald said.

"Then we spray the inside of the tunnel with disinfectant. Finally, we dig up some fresh new sand and push it inside the burrow."

Colleague Cara Burton added: "One or two keepers clean a burrow. You have to do it lying down or sometimes sitting.

"The burrows are up to one-and-a-half metres deep, so you need the rake to reach all the way in. They are dark, smelly and dirty."

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