Penguins get annual physical

Penguins get annual physical

The more than 30 Magellanic penguins got their checkups last week at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids.

Staff members first drained all the water from the penguin tank, which is an annual task after the zoo closes for the winter. Then the penguins each were given their physicals.

In many ways it was like a physical a human would get. Zoo Veterinarian Ryan Colburn used a stethoscope to listen to their hearts and breathing. Zookeepers took blood samples. They also were weighed.

But other parts were more penguin-specific. Colburn used a metal detector to check for items they may have swallowed. He says that if a penguin swallows a penny dropped into the tank, it can be fatal.