GETTING TO KNOW LOU: KELP GULLS AT JOHN BALL ZOO

 

We have three Kelp Gulls:  Our male Sunny and girls Max(ine) and Lou.  I apologize for the bad pun I made as a title, but now you understand it.  Our birds hatched at Sea World San Diego, but their origin is even more exotic.  They were collected as eggs from the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.  Talk about a long trip for some fragile cargo!  Zoo birds rarely come from the wild these days, and our trio will be celebrating their thirtieth birthdays come December (believe it or not, we have penguins even older than that).  You can easily tell them apart by looking at their leg bands, and their names were actually based upon their colors.  Sunny has a yellow one on his right leg, Max has a black one on her left and Lou a left blue. Lou is usually in the waterfall or somewhere up high, while Sunny and Max stay around the penguin deck.  Max doesn't fly well anymore, and we keep Sunny's wing trimmed because he's a bit of a bully sometimes and that helps make him behave.  Sunny has another obvious identifying feature, and that's his flat "Frankenstein" head.  Many years ago he picked a fight with a Cara Cara (I don't know that he started it, but I know Sunny...) and has been misshapen ever since.  Doesn't slow him down though.

 

When we first reopen, you may see only Lou on your frequent (hint, hint) visits to JBZ.  That's because we take Sunny and Max off exhibit during the penguin breeding season.  They can't be trusted around eggs.  Lou is far more timid and allowed to stay.  By June or so, all three of these long-time fixtures will be back on exhibit in the Aquarium.  They'll see you then.

 

 

About David Blaszkiewicz

author photo

David received his Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Biology and a Master of Science in Conservation Biology from Central Michigan University.  

view full bio

Comments

#1 Sarah Eddy said:

Great article Dave! I remember doing my ethogram report on these guys back in my animal behavior class, they are characters. When many of the animals have changed over the years, I'm glad to hear they are still doing well.


#2 Tim O'Donnell said:

Hey David, great article. So many things I never knew about our penguins. It's no wonder that you have such a love and understanding. Keep up the great work and thank you David.


#3 Roselyn Raap said:

Great article! I didn't know our gulls came from the wild or their age. What is the average life span in the wild vs. in captivity? I'll try to remember the color bands and the names that go with them.


#4 Diane St. Pierre said:

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!


#5 Deanne said:

Love you AND your gulls, David.


#6 Andrea Homsher-Cox said:

I'm amazed at the age of the gulls! How wonderful to have them a part of the zoo family for such a long time. Hoping for many more years!


Leave a Comment