Penguins from the UK's Bristol Zoo Moved to Tbilisi

Nineteen penguins from Bristol Zoo in the UK have been donated to Tbilisi, which lost many of its zoo animals in a flash flood in 2015. Bristol and Tbilisi are twinned cities. 

Nineteen young South African penguins are now settling into a newly refurbished penguin pool at Tbilisi Zoo after making the journey by charter plane.

They are the latest of around 80 animals to have been rehomed at the zoo from various European zoos. Tbilisi Zoo suffered significant animal losses in the flood of June 2015, which killed 19 people and left hundreds homeless. Out of the zoo's 1,155 animals, 281 died in the disaster.

An official press release from Bristol zoo states that the South African penguins will now form a new breeding group in Tbilisi, with hopes to boost captive numbers for the species which has been categorised as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Both Tbilisi Zoo and Bristol Zoo are members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and as such, work collaboratively to breed endangered animals in captivity. 

In addition, Tbilisi has been twinned with Bristol, located in the west of England, since 1988, and the penguin arrival has been arranged to coincide with a visit to the Tbilisi by a delegation from Bristol, including Bristol Tbilisi Association chairman Derek Pickup, Bristol business representatives and the Bristol master of the Guild of Guardians, as well as representatives from Bristol Zoo. The group met with the British Ambassador in Tbilisi on Tuesday 11th April to officially hand over the penguins.

In the official press release, Derek Pickup said "since the disastrous flood at Tbilisi Zoo, we have been working with Bristol Zoo to find ways in which we could help them by providing advice on developing a new Zoo in Tbilisi and by providing some new animals. It is fantastic that Bristol Zoo is donating these wonderful Penguins and encouraging other zoo's to follow our example and to donate animals. We feel like a modern day Noah and his ark"

For those of us that suffered the flash flood in Tbilisi almost two years ago, no doubt the images of the damage done to our zoo will be lodged in to your mind. Such positive actions by one of our official twin cities shows that we are able to regroup and rebuild a zoo that does Tbilisi proud. 


By Tamzin Whitewood


12 April 2017 12:46