Photo by: OdySea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium

An Inspiration for All: Rosie the Penguin

Rosie the Riveter, meet your adorable present-day inspiration, Rosie the penguin from the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona.

June 24, 2021

When we think of disabilities, we often do not think about them in tandem with animals, especially penguins. Meet Rosie, an eight-month-old African penguin with physical disabilities located at the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, AZ.

Rosie hatched in December 2019, becoming penguin #39 in the colony at Penguin Point exhibit. Rosie’s parents, Mojo and Lemieux, became first-time parents, making Rosie “genetically valuable to the endangered African penguin species,” according to the OdySea Aquarium.

Photo by: OdySea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium

During a health exam or “chick check,” Director & Veterinarian Dr. Eric Anderson and his team noticed that despite Rosie putting on weight and growing on track, Rosie was unable to sit up on her own. Normally when chicks hatch, they are unable to sit up on their own for the first few days but eventually develop the strength to start sitting up without their parent’s assistance. When the team saw unusual progress for Rosie, they knew something was not right.

The team installed 24/7 camera observations on Rosie and her family in their nest in order to oversee the chick without any intrusion. Beneficial to the Animal Care Team, they were able to gather a better understanding of Mojo and Lemieux’s parenting, as well as Rosie’s behavior. Jessica Peranteau, director of animal care and Education at OdySea Aquarium explained, “[w]e suspected the parents may have been overly protective...Our fear was that in their attempt to protect and incubate their baby, they were inhibiting Rosie’s ability to move about the nest area on her own and appropriately develop.”

Photo by: OdySea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium

Rosie was then taken for further medical tests and radiographs, which revealed skeletal abnormalities in Rosie. It’s inconclusive if Rosie was born with these abnormalities or if her overly cautious parents contributed as a factor. Either way, the team knew that Rosie deserved a chance at the best life possible.

In order to strengthen her core and leg muscles to allow her to sit upright autonomously, the team created their own invention. Enter the “penguin-jump-a-roo”-- a baby bouncer seat inspired by the popular human baby bouncer. Using fabric, elastic, and grommets, the team was able to create a mini baby jumper for Rosie that would safely support her. According to Peranteau, Rosie’s first few times in the sling were minimal, allowing her to get used to the contraption and her posture. The team encouraged her to lift and move her feet so she could start to learn how to walk.

Photo by: OdySea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium

A therapy schedule, as well as “sling-free” short waddles around the aquarium, were put into daily practice, which she seemed to quite enjoy. With the help of the Animal Care Team, the straps allowed Rosie to familiarize herself with the sensation of walking. By February, Rosie was showing results as she was able to sit upright and take a few steps on her own. (Cue Happy Dance!)

During COVID-19 and the aquarium’s shut down, Rosie maintained her routine and therapy schedule. Being four-months old, Rosie was now able to start water therapy with her new “waterproof juvenile plumage” to learn how to swim and bathe herself. After careful help and guidance, Rosie can now proudly swim on her own and get out of the pool without assistance — an exciting and precious milestone for Rosie the penguin!

Fast-forward to present day Rosie, being eight-months old, she has overcome heaps of obstacles and shown her resilience as a penguin with disabilities. Although she is easily spotted by her unique “shuffle,” Rosie has proven that her disabilities do not make her any different from the rest of the penguin colony. Like the other penguins in the colony, Rosie loves eating, learning, cuddling, and swimming. Rosie still attends physical therapy with less assistance, each time, showing tremendous growth in the direction of becoming a fully independent penguin.

Surely the Rosie the Riveter of penguins, Rosie’s inspirational story of determination reminds even humans that when we are faced with adversity, we should never give up.

Next Up

Great Migrations

Brrrrr it’s getting cold out, the days are shorter and soon it’ll be winter! Fall means that more than 4 billion birds will stream overhead on their fall migration to warmer grounds down south, where they will feed and mate.

The Highest Animal on the Food Chain: Megalodon Sharks

The now-extinct megalodon and its ancestors may have been "hyper apex predators," higher up on the food chain than any ocean animal ever known.

Baby Bear Takes a Trip on Hallucinogenic ‘Mad Honey’

A bear cub was rescued in Turkey after passing out from eating too much hallucinogenic honey.

Supertrees That Suck Up More Carbon Could Be Forest Climate Fix

Forestation and tree growth are perhaps the most powerful tool for reducing levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere and tackling climate change. Now genetically modified (GM) ‘supertrees’ that grow faster and rapidly take up CO2 could be used to address the climate crisis.

Is Climate Change Killing More Elephants than Poachers?

Kenya’s Wildlife and Tourism Board has announced that climate change is now a bigger threat to elephant populations than poaching. Kenya is currently facing an extreme drought that is threatening the livelihoods of people and wildlife within the area.

Do Dolphins Have a New Skin Care Routine?

A new study on Indo-Pacific bottle-nosed dolphins reveals that pods might rub themselves on coral as a way to keep their skin healthy.

The Ancient Monkey Puzzle Tree Outlasted Dinosaurs. Now It's Facing Extinction.

The monkey puzzle tree is a remnant of the Jurassic era, more than 145 million years ago, surviving way past its ancient dinosaur counterparts. Reaching heights of about 160 feet, the evergreen tree has a lifespan of up to 700 years and stiff scaly branches with rigid spiral leaves. Monkey puzzle trees’ presence in the wild is shrinking and after million years, their very existence is now endangered.

99% of Sea Turtles are Now Born Female. Here's Why.

Global warming is creating a crisis in sea turtles' gender ratios, where 99% of them are being born female. Sea turtle populations have been facing a significant population decline further exasperated by climate change.

Coral Reef Survival Relies on Gene Science and Lower Emissions

Coral reefs across the world are under threat as global warming raises sea temperatures and the oceans become more acidic from absorbing carbon dioxide. While nations work to reduce industrial greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, helping coral to adapt to changing conditions could provide welcome relief for affected reefs.

There is Hope for the Future of Polar Bears Threatened by Climate Change

Scientific researchers have recently identified a sub-population of polar bears in southeastern Greenland that survive by hunting on glacial slush. The discovery of their unique behaviors is helping scientists understand the future of this species whose habitats are threatened by climate change.

Related To: