Pierre, a 25-year-old African penguin, was getting so old that he was losing his feathers. He shivered with cold and refused to go near water. But his handlers at the California Academy of Sciences had a novel solution: a custom-made diving suit. Working with Oceanic Worldwide, a supplier of diving gear, academy scientists made Pierre a close-fitting rubber garment with openings for his flippers, tail, and feet. “I would walk behind him,” said biologist Pam Schaller, “and look at where there were any gaps, and cut and refit and cut and refit until it was extremely streamlined.” Since wearing the suit, Pierre has gained weight and is again splashing with his fellow penguins.
I hope for Pierre’s sake that his handlers remembered to fit the suit with an opening for his cloaca. I’m sure they did.