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Long Island Aquarium welcomes new African penguins, otter

Slydell, a North American river otter, is a

Slydell, a North American river otter, is a new addition to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. Credit: Long Island Aquarium

The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead recently welcomed two penguins and an otter during an animal exchange program.

Two of the Aquarium’s African black-footed penguins, Elaine and Jerry, were relocated to the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia, while two males, Simon and Jim, moved to Long Island. According to a news release, this was important for their breeding programs as the African penguin population has declined more than 60 percent in the wild due to commercial overfishing of their main food source, oil spills and more. To help their population, many zoos and aquariums participate in breeding programs.

The LI Aquarium had an uneven ratio of females to males, which meant a few of the females did not have a male to bond with. The female penguins now have a chance to find a mate at their new facility. Simon, the older penguin, is currently on display while Jim remains behind the scenes as he loses the rest of his baby feathers, so he is able to swim (he was born in October 2015).

Slydell, an 8-year-old North American river otter, was sent to the Island via the EcoTarium in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is originally from Slydell, Louisiana, where he was raised by the staff and taught how to swim. The LI Aquarium’s male otter, Stark, was relocated to Worcester. Slydell will be on display with the aquarium’s female otter, Jelly. To help the otters get to know each other slowly, they are currently separated but can see, smell, hear and touch each other through a fence in the holding area.

The facilities will update each other to ensure the animals are making progress. To keep Slydell on his feeding schedule, he will not be on display at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit

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