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While The Cheetah's Away, The Penguins Will Play

*This post was originally published Feb. 10, 2016. 

The penguins at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium took a field trip from their regular enclosure to the outdoor cheetah yard on Wednesday.

With the cheetahs indoors for the winter, a fresh coating of snow and temperatures in the 20s, it was the perfect condition for a snowy, penguin play day.

The six penguins were carried in by zoo staff in plastic tubs and released into the yard. Some walked around and poked their faces in spectators' cameras; others plopped on their bellies and frolicked in the snow.

“They’re exploring, taking in all the new sights and sounds,” said Jessica Ries, an aquarist at the Pittsburgh Zoo who works with the penguins.  

The zoo occasionally lets the penguins romp around, Ries said. Officials also host “penguin parades” down the main walkway and let them out on snow days for a change of pace. Ries said it’s enriching for the penguins, who are naturally curious.

“They have different personalities," she said. "Some of them are a lot more affectionate than the other ones. They’re all very curious. There are definitely the rambunctious ones and the high-energy ones, but they all balance each other out very well and they’re having a great time today.”

The penguins’ day out also provides an enrichment experience for the cheetahs. Once the cheetahs return to the yard, they’ll be exposed to new smells left by the penguins.

The cheetahs are currently indoors at the zoo’s Animal Care Center, where they live in the winter. They’ll return to the outdoor enclosure in the spring.