Penguins donated by twin-city Bristol arrive at Tbilisi zoo

Thu 13 April 2017 06:38 GMT | 10:38 Local Time

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Tbilisi Zoo is now home to a new group of South African penguins donated by twin-city Bristol, UK, as the Georgian capital’s zoo continues its restoration after the flood of 2015.

The handover of the 19 young penguins was held in Tbilisi on Tuesday, after the aquatic birds arrived via a charter flight from the UK, according to

The occasion in Georgia’s capital was attended by officials and came ahead of next year’s 30th anniversary of the twinning of Bristol and Tbilisi in 1988.

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”, said Chair of Bristol’s Tbilisi Twinning Association Derek Pickup at the ceremony.

The arrival of the South African penguins was greatly anticipated. Before the [2015] flood our zoo featured penguins handed over to us as present from the Living Coasts [Coastal Zoo and Aquarium in Torquay, the UK], however unfortunately we could not save them [during the natural disaster]. Now we have welcomed penguins back at our park”, said Tbilizi Zoo Director Zurab Gurielidze.

The June 13, 2015 flood in central Tbilisi killed 19 people while also taking the lives of 281 animals of the zoo.

Since the date the park has been under extensive restoration in order to house animals while a completely new zoo is being built near Tbilisi Sea.

To adapt the zoo for accepting the African Penguins the previously used penguinarium was extended, with additional space and sand areas set up at the venue.

New housing areas for the penguins were also set up in anticipation of the handover.

A Bristol Zoo press release said the penguin group would "form a new breeding group" to boost numbers of the species currently noted as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Their breeding at Tbilisi Zoo is part of the collaboration between the zoos of the two cities under their membership of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

The handover was arranged to coincide with the arrival to Tbilisi of a delegation from Bristol that includes Bristol Tbilisi Association chairman Derek Pickup as well as business figures and Bristol Zoo representatives.

The delegation is scheduled to meet UK ambassador Justin McKenzie Smith in Tbilisi next week. 




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