GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Good Morning Mississippi crew had a special guest Monday morning: “Flirty Ferdy,” a 4-year-old African Penguin who calls the Gulf Coast home.
Diana Major and Brittany Palode with the Mississippi Aquarium brought Ferdinand to the set. Ferdinand is just one of 11 penguins that are part of the aquarium’s ambassador program.
Ferdinand doesn’t live in the typical environment you might think of when you hear “penguin.” African Penguins are a temperate species of penguin, which means they’re used to warm weather. In the wild, many would never see snow or ice even once during their life; this makes South Mississippi’s environment a great place for them to live!
Penguins are birds, so they have all the characteristics of one. They actually have the most dense feather coverage of any animal in the world, with 60 feathers per square inch!
“[The feathers] lay on top of each other like shingles on a roof, and that’s what’s gonna keep them nice and warm and waterproof in the oceans,” Major said. “Because even though they’re from a warmer climate in the air, the water that they swim in comes up from Antarctica, so it’s very cold.”
Penguins like Ferdinand spend around two-thirds of their lives in the water. They can dive down about 400 feet and stay under water for around 5 minutes.
This Friday is the aquarium’s “Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars” fundraiser at Jones Park, which includes food, music, and a drone lights and firework show. If you’re dying to meet Ferdinand or his fellow ambassadors from the Mississippi Aquarium, you have a chance! A private, adult-only VIP experience will take place at the aquarium Friday evening, as well, and include upscale cocktails, coastal cuisine, animal encounters, and a great view for the show. For more information, visit the event page here.
If you aren’t able to make it to Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars, but still want a chance to meet the ambassador penguins, you can also attend the aquarium’s “Penguins and Pops” event, which celebrates October as African Penguin Awareness month. This event will take place October 15 and include your choice of a popsicle and a photo with a penguin for only $12. More information can be found here.
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