Penguin Becomes a ‘Guide Bird’ For His Best Friend

Squid and Penguin are inseparable.


Penguin and Squid at Birdsworld.

(Courtesy Birdworld)

A pair of penguins at the UK’s Birdworld wildlife park in Farnham, is inseparable. That’s because three-year-old Penguin – that’s his name — has become a “guide bird” for his friend Squid who has cataracts and needs a helping fin to get around.

The two African penguins have a remarkable relationship, reported The BBC.  The chicks grew up together and formed this friendship when they were young. Squid learned to follow Penguin at feeding time so she wouldn't get lost in the crowd.

Penguin’s remarkable life story
Penguin’s altruism isn’t the only amazing part of her life journey. When Penguin was hatched, he was so ill that he was not expected to live and that’s the reason that he was not named. The ailing chick was hand-reared by the park staff and then he had to learn how to be a penguin.

Penguin did not join his fellow penguins until later in life when he was fully recovered and he struggled to fit in with the others. That is until he met Squid and the two developed this remarkable friendship.

When Squid was hatched she was a typical lively and vocal chick, but she developed cataracts at just six-weeks old, according to the Farnham Herald. This was unexpected since the rest of her family is healthy.

But being in the enclosure from birth, gave Squid a natural confidence at the same time as Penguin was just learning how to be a part of the group.

Becoming Squid’s eyes
Not being able to see perfectly, left Squid disorientated during feeding time. “She used to be quite anxious about approaching the fish bucket at feeding time because the excitement of the other penguins created a more unpredictable environment, and she would shy away from this for fear of getting caught in the crossfire of beaks,” Polly Bramham from Birdworld said in a statement from the wildlife park to Goodnet.

Now, Squid relies on Penguins calmness to help guide her around the enclosure. “His stability was something she could rely on, the base from which she has steadily expanded her world," Braham added.
But the closeness of the pair, who relied so much on each other, surprised the staff at Birdworld. Senior penguin keeper, Natalie Marshall said in the statement: “We didn’t expect Penguin and Squid to form such a close bond, and it's evident that Penguin's resilience significantly influenced Squid's self-assurance.”

Squid’s eye conditions are not ordinary cataracts since it is not age related. In fact, her visual impairment is different in each eye. But since she doesn’t know anything different she has managed to compensate as best she can but she will still have difficulties if approached from a blind spot or at feeding time.

Even though cataract surgery can be performed on penguins, the staff is confident that at this early stage, Squid is better off without it. With partial sight, this is a manageable challenge, as long as she could engage in natural penguin behaviors.

With Penguins help, she can and this bond shows that deep relationships can occur in these remarkable birds. Since the pair are not mature yet, it is unknown if they will become mates.

“The intuitive behavior observed between Penguin and Squid has revealed a remarkable level of empathy and understanding, showcasing the profound connections that can form within the animal kingdom,” Braham said.

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