IN PICS: Mumbai zoo’s penguin Mr.Molt turns 2, celebrates in a red t-shirt | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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IN PICS: Mumbai zoo’s penguin Mr.Molt turns 2, celebrates in a red t-shirt

The playful Mr.Molt, one of Byculla zoo’s adored penguins, turned two on Friday.

mumbai Updated: Jul 22, 2017 00:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Let’s dance! Birthday boy Mr Molt, in the red t-shirt, seems to be setting the mood for a party at Byculla zoo.
Let’s dance! Birthday boy Mr Molt, in the red t-shirt, seems to be setting the mood for a party at Byculla zoo.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

Mr. Molt, one of eight Humboldt penguins brought to the Byculla zoo from South Korea, turned 2 on Friday. And the zoo ensured he stood out. Dressed in a red t-shirt, hand-painted with the words Birthday Boy, Mr. Molt strutted across the penguin enclosure, swam, ate his birthday cake and frolicked with the other six Humboldts.

Mr Molt takes a break from the group and chills in the pool. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

To celebrate, the zoo made Mr.Molt a special cake — a blast-frozen fish and ice cake for the penguin.

Mr. Molt’s special fish-and-ice cake. (HT PHOTO)

Eight penguins arrived at the Byculla zoo in July last year. One of them, Dory, died. But ever since the zoo opened the penguin enclosure, the seven others — Bubble, Mr Molt, Flipper, Donald, Daisy, Popeye and Olive, have stolen hearts.

Mr. Molt is the youngest of the seven penguins in the Byculla zoo. All others are aged between 2 and 3 years. (HT PHOTO)

The seven penguins have helped bring in more people, and revenue, to the zoo.

The penguins are kept in a 1,550-sqft soundproof public exhibit at the zoo. (HT PHOTO)

The Humboldt penguin is a south American species found in the cold climate of coastal Peru and Chile. They were all named after famous Disney characters, based on their behaviour. Bubble is the naughtiest and does not let the others eat before she does, and birthday boy Mr Molt, the youngest male, is the most playful of the lot, said zoo officials.

Dr. Madhumita Kale gives Mr Molt a check-up on his birthday on Friday. (HT PHOTO)

Dr Madhumita Kale, the veterinarian in charge of the penguins, said Mr. Molt got his name because he was molting (shedding his skin, which regenerates on its own every year) when he was brought to the zoo.

The oldest penguin, Flipper, is the most dominant and is very protective of her family, said caretakers. Donald and Daisy and Popeye and Olive, were obvious couples and were named so.

City-based activists, however, were irked when they got to know Mr Molt was made to wear a t-shirt. “While activists have been repeatedly telling Mumbai pet owners not to put clothes on dogs as it raises their body temperature, here we have specialists from the civic body torturing penguins like this,” said Anand Siva, animal welfare activist from Chembur. “By putting a shirt on its body, the body temperature is being trapped and since these birds are kept in a cool climate, they can suffocate.”

Zoo authorities said the penguin was made to wear the shirt for just a few seconds. “It was done under proper supervision of the doctor. It was for a few seconds and removed after that. All the penguins are healthy. We know the rules and the systems to take care of them,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, Byculla Zoo director.

Humboldt quick facts
  • What do they eat? They were first fed fish such as Bombay duck and eel. But they also eat mackerel, anchovies and sardines
  • What do the vets wear? Full lab coats, gum boots, face masks and head caps, mostly to prevent infecting the penguins or catching infections from them
  • Where do they come from? The Humboldt penguin is a south American species from coastal Peru and Chile.
  • Play time? The animals play with colourful balls. “Bubble and Mr Molt drag all the other penguins into the pool, the younger ones get bored and chase the whole family out. They enjoy having the pool to themselves,” said Dr Kale.