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A performance fit for a King Penguin!

December 21, 2020 Attraction No Comments

The King and Gentoo penguins at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium have heard music for the first time and it’s safe to say it was love at first listen!

The birds were treated to a beautiful acoustic guitar performance by Mitchell Thorburn, an aquarist at the Auckland aquarium, as part of an enrichment session.

Mitchell brought his guitar to work and ventured into the icy display to discover how New Zealand’s only colony of sub-Antarctic penguins would respond to music, including a modern rendition of Silent Night to get the birds into the Christmas spirit.

The team at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s provide various enrichment activities for the penguins in order to encourage natural behaviours as well as physical and mental stimulation;

“We give the birds heaps of enrichment to ensure they are provided with plenty of opportunities to discover and explore. We often use bubbles and balls and are constantly trying new things that we think will pique the penguins’ curiosity and provide them with new experiences. We decided to try music for the first time as penguins are quite vocal creatures,” said Kristen Buckley, Penguin Carer at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s.

“The penguins were absolutely enthralled by Mitchell and it was wonderful to see! There was always the chance they would ignore the music altogether, but they had the opposite reaction. The birds crowded around Mitchell and it’s the first time we have ever seen the Gentoo penguins react in this way, looking so entranced by what was going on – they are usually very active and are always waddling around in a rush.”

Following the positive response to the music from the King and Gentoo penguins, the team at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s wants New Zealanders to suggest what they should play for the penguins next! Comment on this Facebook post and tag your suggestion to go into the draw to win a Family Pass to the aquarium.

“I personally would love to have Midnight Youth or Avalanche City play live for the penguins but that’s a long shot! We can’t wait to see what the people of New Zealand suggest and look forward to seeing how the birds respond to a second performance,” said Kristen.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is also home to magnificent sand tiger sharks, rescued sea turtles undergoing rehabilitation, hundreds of different fish species and much more.

During the upcoming school holidays, kids can discover the Teeth & Tails of incredible aquatic animals as they journey through the underwater world. The aquarium is taking guests on a deep dive into the form and function of sea creatures’ body parts from Saturday 19 December 2020 to Sunday 31 January 2021. All visitors must pre-book their tickets online in advance. Visit for updates, tickets, opening hours and health and safety information.

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