Page last updated at 07:38 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Zoo penguins help Antarctic birds

Penguin tag
The new tag is soft to prevent sores

Penguins at a Leicestershire zoo are helping scientists with a new project to track the movements of their cousins in Antarctica.

The macaroni species at Twycross Zoo is testing new tags that record light levels and time to work out where they are for up to three years.

If trials are successful the tags could be used on penguins at the south pole.

Scientists say the wild birds' movements are poorly understood, as they can travel thousands of miles.

Tags 'caused sores'

The British Antarctic Survey developed the 1.5g data logger built into a soft leg ring, after previous tags proved dangerous for the birds.

Bands had been fitted to penguins' flippers, but they affected movement and increased the chances of the birds dying, while metal or plastic rings fitted to their legs were causing cuts and sores.

The new tags are being tested at the zoo so keepers can check for any potential problems in the wild.

If they work, they will be used to track the winter movements of wild macaroni penguins from the colony at Bird Island, South Georgia, during 2010.

Scientists say most species spend the winter entirely at sea and are capable of travelling thousands of miles from their colonies.

Print Sponsor

Zoo shows off new penguin chicks
19 May 09 |  Leicestershire
New 7m centre for Twycross Zoo
08 Apr 09 |  Leicestershire

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific