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'All My Penguins' Tells Tales Of Love And Friendship At Chicago Zoo


Now an improbable soap opera.

SUNNY NELSON: Well, Robben and Pilchard were a hot pair for a while. And unfortunately Robben left Pilchard and is now paired with our dominant male, Preston.

SHAPIRO: This is All My Penguins.



All My Penguins is a blog. It's written by Sunny Nelson, bird curator at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Last year the zoo welcomed a new colony of African penguins.

NELSON: Everybody was very excited. So even the folks that worked here wanted to find out how the new penguins were acclimating, who they were.

SHAPIRO: So she began to send out weekly notes about them. This summer the updates turn into a full-blown blog because there was so much drama among the 15 penguins in the colony. They all have nicknames, by the way.

SIEGEL: Robben and Pilchard whom we heard about having a fling - well, Robben's nickname is The Main Squeeze. Pilchard's known as The Salty One.

SHAPIRO: Salty because Robben left him.

NELSON: So for a while, Pilchard was kind of roaming around and peeking his head in the nest box that Robben was in with her new mate and trying to kind of get her back. And I think he's finally maybe given up a little bit. Now he's hanging out with his new friend, Phil.

SIEGEL: You need a good friend after a tough breakup.

SHAPIRO: Mating penguins usually stay together for years.

NELSON: You know, we normally hear about the birds being monogamous in the wild, monogamous in other areas. And our colony's new, so it makes sense that they're trying to get to know each other and hanging out with each other. But I really was surprised by all of the nest box switches and the new pairs that were being created day to day.

SIEGEL: Sunny Nelson posts a new chapter of All My Penguins every two weeks on the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.