The Penguin in the Parking Lot
A lost penguin, named Tomás by the locals, winds up wandering the capital of Peru
Tomás was found in Lima, the capital of Peru. His new home, San Lorenzo, is the largest island off the coast.
Wait...is that a penguin? That’s what some people in Lima, the capital of Peru, were wondering last week when they spotted a black-and-white bird with a comical waddle strolling the city’s busy streets.
And yes, it was indeed a penguin. Normally at home in the islands off the coast of Peru, the bird had shown up on a beach called Agua Dulce. He then waddled miles away from home.
In Lima, the police took the penguin in and named him Tomás. After being examined by a vet, Tomás spent some time making friends. He bathed in the local fountain and even enjoyed having his picture taken with local beachgoers.
Tomás is a Humboldt penguin. Averaging 27 inches tall and 13 pounds, Humboldts make their home off the coasts of Chile and Peru in South America. Unfortunately, the species is endangered. Just 30 years ago, there were an estimated 20,000 Humboldt penguins. Today there are only about 10,000 left.
Why the decline? The Humboldt population has decreased because of humans’ poaching, or illegally hunting, penguins for meat. People have also taken them as pets. Oil spills and drastic weather conditions have further hurt the penguin population. Additionally, penguins can be accidentally caught up in the nets of commercial fishermen, where they drown.
Tomás’s story has a happy ending. He was taken to a Humboldt-penguin colony on San Lorenzo Island, the largest island off the coast of Peru. Though Tomás is certainly better off there, his friends in Lima will miss him!