Freckled Flock

No, they don’t all look alike! Each penguin has spots on its chest that look a lot like freckles, plus different feather markings, eye colors, and beak shapes.

At the Santa Barbara Zoo, the penguins wear wingtags – females have them on left wings, males on the right.

The birds also have been given names either by donors or by keepers, like Lucky, Bling, and Peegloo.

Some birds are distinctive:

  • Bingo is the largest and tips the scales at up to 6 kilos (13 pounds)
  • Plum is the dominant female and keeps other penguins in their places
  • Pinga is super sweet and gentle
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A Special Shoe for a “Lucky” Penguin

Did you notice that one of the Zoo’s penguins wears a shoe?

This penguin is named Lucky. He wears this shoe to help him with a medical condition in one of his feet.

Lucky hatched here at the Zoo. As soon as he began to walk, the keepers noticed that he limped. The Zoo’s veterinarian discovered a problem with the growth of some of his foot bones. Because surgery was too risky, and most likely wouldn’t work well, the vet and keeper staff decided to make him a special shoe.

But where do you get a shoe for a penguin? The Zoo found a community partner in Teva, a local adventure footwear company that makes shoes and sandals especially for people who are active in, on, and around the water.

Teva’s design team volunteered hundreds of hours to design and make a special shoe for Lucky, and the company has committed to providing shoes for Lucky’s lifetime. The shoe is changed daily so it can be washed.

Thanks to his custom shoe, Lucky can walk, jump, and swim like the other penguins.

Lucky Updates
October 21, 2018

Lucky’s Surgery

L ucky the Humboldt penguin is famous for wearing a one-of-a-kind Teva shoe. While this shoe has helped Lucky walk, jump, and swim like the other penguins for the past…

Penguin Who Wears Teva Shoe

In this video you will see a penguin at the world-famous Santa Barbara Zoo who gets a custom-made Teva shoe for his deformed foot. Without it, the penguin would not survive.

Feeding the Flock

Keepers can’t just put out a bowl of fish for penguins – the more dominant birds would edge out the timid ones. So keepers feed each bird by hand, keeping track of how much each penguin eats. It’s a two-person job, with one keeper feeding and the other keeping the records.


Each morning we come in and count the birds, and there’s always something going on. Penguins are braying at each other, protecting their territories, and interacting in all kinds of ways. It is never quiet, except maybe when they are napping.

Liz B.

Conservation Status

Humboldt penguins are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Primary threats in their native range include entanglement in fishing nets; illegal capture for food, bait, and the pet trade; and historic over-harvesting of guano (needed by the birds for nesting) for fertilizer.

There are only so many fish in the sea.

By buying sustainable seafood, you can help provide a healthy future for the oceans and the animals that depend on them. Pick up a Seafood Watch guide at the Zoo’s restaurants to help make the best seafood purchasing decisions.