Today is World Penguin Day – to celebrate we visited the Ski Dubai penguins during their morning swim and filmed it in 360.

Happy World Penguin Day!

There are 29 penguins living in Mall of the Emirates in Dubai in a specially designed enclosure with a pool, a deck area and a ‘bedroom’ (the penguins are free to move around between these three areas throughout the day).

We popped in to visit the penguins during their morning swim last week and filmed the whole thing with our 360 camera so that you can join them during the ritual.

Their first swim of the day is the longest, as they spend a lot of time cleaning their feathers (they flip about in the water to clean themselves – they don’t have hands to scratch or clean their feathers remember). In fact, the penguin encounters at Ski Dubai (during which some of the penguins come out to meet the public) only start at 12pm because the penguins love their morning swim so much they like to take their time during it.

Watch the 360° video of the penguins here… this video was filmed in the penguin’s ‘top deck’ pool (which makes up about a third of their private enclosure, aka the area that visitors aren’t allowed into):

Note: If you’re watching on desktop, move your mouse around to move the angle. Watching on mobile? Click on the video’s title to watch the video on the YouTube app (and then move your phone around to change your point of view). Also make sure to set the video to high resolution for the best viewing experience. 

More facts about the penguins that we learnt during our visit…

– At Ski Dubai there are two types of penguins – gentoos and kings. Kings, the larger ones, are lazier and like to cuddle (in fact, during the video you can see one of the kings snuggling head trainer Sarah Pillay). Meanwhile, gentoos are far more energetic and particularly love swimming (they can reach speeds of up to 35 km per hour in the water).

– The Ski Dubai penguins get weighed every morning to monitor their health, and are given a fish with vitamins in it.

– When one of the penguins moved his head side to side, drawing an imaginary line with his beak, the head trainer Sarah Pillay told us he was “drawing his line” and “setting his territory”.

penguins ski dubai

– There are some new chicks among the Ski Dubai penguins as part of the Snow Penguin Breeding Programme, which has flourished since its inception and is respected in the conservation community. When the Penguin Encounter section of Ski Dubai opened up in February 2012, they had just 10 King and 10 Gentoo penguins. Since settling in, Ski Dubai have witnessed multiple pairings between the penguins, and the resort is now home to a total of 29 King and Gentoo penguins, including the new chicks.

– Mum penguins can’t tell their babies apart by sight, but can identify their bird by its cry, which is distinct.

– Gentoo penguins molt once a year – so the penguins you see in the video that look like they’ve had their feathers half plucked off are mid-molt (or are teenagers going through the awkward phase of puberty).

– Gentoo babies are docile and quiet, but when they reach a kilo in weight they start to get defensive and territorial. And then, at around two kilos, they start wandering around and exploring.

Ski Dubai, Mall Of The Emirates, Dubai, penguin encounters from 12pm daily, Dhs175 per person. Tel: (04) 4094242. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates.

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