Áine O'Connor

Following a conversation of the Saint Louis Zoo’s new polar bear exhibit with its curator of mammals, Steve Bircher, St. Louis Public Radio science reporter Véronique LaCapra and “St. Louis on the Air” producer Alex Heuer took a field trip to the nearby Penguin and Puffin Coast.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been to the zoo, and this opened up in March,” Véronique said. “But I have not yet had a chance to see it, so we’re going to take a sneak peek inside.”

King penguins will lead the Saint Louis Zoo parade to the new penguin habitat on March 5, 2015.
Robin Winkelman / Saint Louis Zoo

They’re back! The Saint Louis Zoo’s Penguin and Puffin Coast reopens Thursday to the public.

To kick off the celebration, a parade of king and gentoo penguins will lead the way to the exhibit at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The penguin exhibit closed in September 2013 for construction of a new polar bear exhibit that is next to the penguin habitat. The polar bear exhibit will open this summer.

(wwarby via Flickr)

Unlike their cold-weather relatives, Humboldt penguins live only in South America, along the rocky Pacific coast of Chile and Peru.

The Saint Louis Zoo’s Michael Macek has been monitoring the penguins there, tracking their health and numbers.

Macek is back in Peru again, in a coastal reserve called Punta San Juan, where Humboldt penguins nest by the thousands.

Before he left, he told St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra that this time he’s helping to lead a sustainable guano harvest.

(via Flickrvenomgfx)

In the weird and wacky news category today, at least one penguin at the St. Louis Zoo appears to be a feisty opponent of Newt Gingrich - or at least one of his fingers.

The Republican presidential candidate is sporting a small bandage on his finger after getting nipped by a small penguin during his tour of the zoo on Friday. Gingrich was in St. Louis to speak during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting.