Jumping Castle fun for penguins at Melbourne Zoo

18 December 2019

Melbourne Zoo’s colony of penguins is busily exploring the Zoo’s first ever Penguin Jumping Castle.

The miniature jumping castle, custom-designed specifically for penguins, is the latest way the Zoo is keeping the penguins’ bodies and minds active and healthy.

The unique inflatable device was conceptualised by Melbourne Zoo Wild Sea keeper Elizabeth Liddicoat, and features three tiers and two tunnels, which allow the Zoo’s penguins to climb and explore.

Ms Liddicoat said the jumping castle provided many benefits for the penguins, including encouraging natural behaviors.

“Penguins are really inquisitive animals and they like to explore things, so this provides them with something new to discover,” she said.

“The jumping castle encourages the penguins to use their senses, to climb, to exercise, and provides them with an activity that makes them think about what they want to do.”

“The jumping castle encourages the penguins to use their senses, to climb, to exercise, and provides them with an activity that makes them think about what they want to do.”

Melbourne Zoo is home to 30 Little penguins and two Fiordland penguins, who are all getting opportunities to experience the fun inflatable device.

Ms Liddicoat said the penguins were naturally a little cautious about their new jumping castle at first, but all it took was some keeper encouragement to spark the penguins’ curiosity. 

“We’ve seen the Little penguins confidently adventure through the tunnels,” Ms Liddicoat said. “Some even jump onto the castle, jump off and then repeat that all over again.

“One of the Fiordland penguins, Kim, even jumped all the way to the top and showed what great balance she has, so she was the ‘queen of the castle’ this week.”

Ms Liddicoat said keepers would continue to use the jumping castle as part of the penguins’ ongoing enrichment program.

“We will put it out once every week or two, so that it remains a nice surprise,” she said.

The jumping castle is just one of the fun and innovative ways that keepers are enriching the animals’ lives at the Zoo this summer. A variety of water play activities are occurring daily across the entire Zoo, designed to keep both animals and visitors cool.

Little penguins are native to Australia and are the smallest species of penguin in the world. The Fiordland penguins are native to New Zealand, slightly larger than their counterparts, and have distinctive yellow plumes above their eyes.

Visitors can see the Little penguins and Fiordland penguins at Melbourne Zoo’s Wild Sea precinct from 9am-5pm seven days a week.  

The Penguin Jumping Castle project was kindly funded by The Cochrane Family.