18 November 2010

Ambassador Ayoba arrives at Aquarium

Helen Lockhart
All together now: "Awww ..."

While the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ is a distant memory for most of us, we were recently reminded of the gees and vibe when Ayoba arrived at the Aquarium. Ayoba is a young African penguin who is destined for greatness, not only as a proud ambassador for his species, but also as a partner to Zuki, our other hand-reared African penguin who rose to fame during the soccer festival by showing off her footy skills.

Ayoba will be joining Zuki in her ambassadorial duties as soon as he has settled in his new home. The pair will be meeting and greeting school children, alerting them to the endangered status of African penguins, and informing them of the threats which these charismatic birds currently face.

Ayoba hatched to proud parents Neptune and Alan in the Sappi River Meander about four months ago. He was then sent to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to be hand-reared by expert penguin surrogate mother, Cheryl Campbell.

During this time he became acquainted with humans and was taught how to interact with them with the dignity and grace of a true ambassador.

Ayoba is an extremely handsome bird, still displaying the blue-grey plumage of adolescence. It will take between 12 and 18 months for him to grow into his full tuxedo colours of black and white.

According to www.wiki.answers.com, “ayoba” is “a slang term used by South Africans to express amazement. It is derived from other slang terms, like ‘ayeye’ or ‘ayoyoyo’. It was originally meant as an approval/appreciation of good dancing, although the exact origins of the phrase are unknown. It is thought to have roots in Johannesburg township culture. It is, however, uniquely South African and expresses delight, excitement, agreement and approval. It is also used as a greeting.”

Family tree

Neptune was found on Aliwal Shoal in 1998 and was then taken to uShaka Sea World in Durban, where he remained until July 2000, when he was given to the Two Oceans Aquarium. He has a big black smudge in the middle of his neck, below his beak.

Alan was donated to us by SANCCOB in 2003. She is our smallest African penguin and, contrary to her name, is a female and a very dedicated mother. She has two small spots in the middle of her chest, just under her neckline.

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