While they are not suede, they will keep the little blue penguin's feet dry and infection-free. Elvis and 16 other little blues who arrived at the International Antarctic Centre in September have been given specially designed shoes after several penguins developed sore feet in their new home. Brought from Napier's Marineland to take centre stage at the Antarctic Centre's Penguin Encounter display, the penguins are "second-chance" birds. Many have disabilities due to injuries.
Antarctic Centre director Richard Benton said some of the penguins had developed sore feet, which had proved "tricky" to treat. Veterinarian Pauline Howard had suggested rubber shoes. Snugly tailored, with a springy sole, the shoes are available in kelp green or penguin blue – to complement any penguin tuxedo. Benton said some of the penguins had developed calluses from their new environment. Foot calluses were a common problem for penguins as they spent most of their time fishing at sea and were hardly ever on their feet. 'Captive penguins, however, can become a bit lazy and will spend a lot of time standing around waiting for their fish to come to them,' he said. The arrival of the penguins has boosted visitor numbers by 60 per cent, he added.