Pepe is a people penguin.
Hand-raised since he hatched, the 5-month-old Humboldt penguin
is an unofficial ambassador at Brookfield Zoo's The Living Coast. A
curious little bird, he's eager to check out people, watch the
other birds in the exhibit and chase flies while zookeepers answer
Zookeepers also are eager to talk about the conservation work
taking place in Peru, where the Chicago Zoological Society vice
president of clinical medicine, Dr. Michael Adkesson, is conducting
research with the Humboldt penguin population at the Punta San Juan
In the wild, the decline in Humboldt penguin populations has
reached crisis proportions, with populations plummeting over the
years from an estimated hundreds of thousands of animals a hundred
years ago to 20,000 to 50,000 today, the zoo says.
"By getting kids excited about Pepe, we hopefully get them
excited about supporting our conservation work down there," says
Tim Snyder, curator of birds for the Chicago Zoological
He says Pepe's appearances are not scheduled but do occur
several times a week in the exhibit's Rocky Shores habitat.
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