Brazil zoo sends beached penguins to California

Nearly two dozen penguins swept to the warm shores of Brazil last year have been sent to California to be resettled in a cooler clime and become part of an exhibit on climate change, a zoo director said Tuesday.

Giselda Candiotto, president of the rehabilitation zoo in Niteroi, a city across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro, said the 21 penguins will live in an appropriately acclimatized space created for them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

"They're doing well, really well," she said. "They're going to the First World, with all the best amenities."

The Magellanic penguins arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday night and will be in quarantine for a month before being moved to the aquarium in northern California, Candiotto said.

Magellanic penguins normally breed in the chilly waters off the coasts of Argentina and Chile, and don't survive long in Brazil's heat, Candiotto said.

Penguins often wash up along the Brazilian coast, swept northward by strong currents from the Straight of Magellan. In 2008, 700 penguins landed in Brazil, some so exhausted they could barely lift their heads.

"Most of them don't make it," said Candiotto, whose zoo has worked over the years to resettle as many penguins as possible in more appropriate environments.

Two penguins among the group of Magellanic penguins that washed up last year were kept in Brazil because there wasn't enough room at the California aquarium, she said.

"They're keeping each other company, but it's a real pity," she said. "Even in the shade, this weather's hard on them."