Big changes happening on Penguin Island! Cassie the penguin completes her first official molt.

Cassie7Do you recognize this penguin? Why it’s the one and only Cassie (or as you may know her by her other alias – Casanova). If she looks a tad different than the last time you saw her, it’s for good reason; because – big news – she just completed her first official molt!

A molt occurs when a bird’s feathers are pushed out and replaced by new ones, a process that occurs every year.  Unlike other bird species that shed a few feathers during the year, African Penguins actually undergo what is called a ‘catastrophic molt’, a 20 day period during which time each penguin loses all of its feathers at one time.

Before and after molt

And for 15-month old Cassie, this first molt means she says goodbye to her gray and white juvenile plumage, and hello to her new set of feathers.

Cassie6

At an about 95% complete molt, Cassie still has a couple days until her feathers are totally in, but as you can see – with her new black and white colors, she officially looks like an adult penguin.

Cassie1

Like fingerprints on humans or stripes on a zebra, African penguin chest patterns – including the lines and spots – are unique to each individual penguin.

Cassie3

Want to spot Cassie during your visit? Ask a biologist to point her out at Penguin Island!

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