If you want to see pure joy, just blow some bubbles among a bunch of kids and pets. Even for us adults, blowing bubbles can be loads of fun, not necessarily for its novelty, but rather for the beauty and atmosphere that it creates. Why do you think bubble machines are so popular in birthday parties, weddings and other personal events?

Considering how fun bubbles can actually be, the Newquay Zoo recently decided to install a bubble machine in their penguin enclosure in hopes of keeping the very social birds entertained during the lockdown when visitor counts sank to zero. And, oh boy, did the penguins have some fun.

Penguins get bored too, especially when there’s no people since the zoos are in lockdown

Image credits: SNWS

The Newquay Zoo in Trenance Leisure Park, Newquay, England was recently donated a bubble machine by Little Surprises, a hand-packed gift experience service, via the zoo’s donation Amazon Wishlist. The bubble machine was soon set up in one of their penguin enclosures and turned on for the penguins to enjoy.

You see, penguins are extremely social animals—one of the most social among birds, in fact. When the pandemic forced all non-essential public venues to close in hopes of stopping the spread, the penguins (among many other animals) had their daily routines changed. They were no longer receiving any guests, and the feeding shows were turned into just feeding time.

“The keepers saw the penguins chasing leaves on windy days and thought that chasing bubbles would be more fun,” Pippa Craddock of the Newquay Zoo told Bored Panda about the origins of the idea to set up a bubble machine.

The Newquay Zoo was recently donated a bubble machine that it put inside their penguin enclosure

Image credits: Newquay Zoo

So, to keep them entertained and more engaged in their day to day life both mentally and physically (and all the while letting the caretakers take a break from all of the attention-seeking), the penguins now had a bubble machine to keep them busy. And it was beyond adorable to say the least.

Besides gazing in wonder at the flying bubbles, the penguins would also chase them around. Waddling from corner to corner, the penguins would run after the flurry of bubbles, popping them and then wondering where they went.

As it turns out, the penguins might get a bit rowdy if they are not kept busy throughout the day, as explained Craddock: “They live in groups, so they do get rowdy among themselves, especially if they get too close to each other’s nest burrows.”

And the penguins were super happy about it, waddling after the flurry of bubbles and popping them

Image credits: Newquay Zoo

One of the keepers, Dan Trevelyan, explained that penguins are predators and hence they love chasing things. The bubbles are merely keeping their reflexes sharp, all the while giving them the exercise they need.

As it turns out, the Newquay Zoo has been doing this since 2014 as part of the animal enrichment process that is used in good zoos to provide animals with mentally and physically stimulating experiences that encourage their natural behavior, all the while also making sure they aren’t bored to tears. The fact that the bubble machine ended up on the zoo’s wishlist leads people to believe that they needed a new one to continue doing this.

Penguins are extremely social birds, so the bubbles are helping them cope with the changes in their routine caused by the pandemic-induced lockdown

Image credits: SNWS

Studies have shown that such enrichment programs are crucial to the well-being of zoo animals, and it’s as important as nutritious diets and proper veterinary care. So, the zoo has been keeping up their bimonthly bubble sessions since then. The bubbles pose no harm to the animals, and were even proven popular with the zoo’s Squirrel Monkeys and Sulawesi Crested Macaques.

“We are always thinking of ways to keep them busy. Recently, we have tried throwing lots of different colored plastic balls into the pool to see if they wanted to play with them. They babies loved them, the adults less so,” explained Craddock.

Turns out, the zoo has been doing this since 2014 to keep their penguins mentally and physically active

Image credits: Newquay Zoo

Back when the program was first launched, John Meek, the zoo’s Animal Collections Manager, expressed how fun and exciting the bubble machine was for everyone:

“It was hilarious watching the penguins frantically waddling and swimming after the bubbles, trying to catch them. It was really entertaining for visitors too but more importantly it worked well as an enrichment tool which is a vital part of our animal welfare programme.”

Craddock also added: “The bubble machine has been a great success and the keepers would like to say thank you for it—it was a source of much joy for penguins and keepers alike.”

Here’s a video the Newquay Zoo shared of the penguins enjoying the bubbles

Here’s another 1-minute video showing the penguins having the time of their lives with the bubbles

Image credits: SNWS

Fun fact, penguins can live well into their thirties and each one has its own character—some are playful, some bite your legs, others are shyer and they often form same sex relationships. Thanks to Newquay Zoo for these tidbits of knowledge!

If you want to learn more about the zoo and its animals, why not check out their website, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube channel. You can also support them by donating or by getting them something from their Amazon Wishlist.

But before you go, let us know what your thoughts are on this? What other animals would you like to see having a go at the bubble machine? Let us know in the comment section below!

Here’s how people on the internet reacted to the penguins and their bubbly shenanigans