If you are to own a pet penguin (which is illegal anyhow) you would have to get a permit from the USDA and design an appropriate large salt-water habitat to meet with USIS and USDA annual inspections regularly. In order to obtain an exotic pet the person who is selling it to you has to have a USDA license and report the sale to our agency so we can come and inspect your facility. You will be required to find an exotic vet which certifies a document that the animal is in good health every year additionally. Owning such an animal requires a lot of expertise and anyone who has to ask here shows they clearly lack. A penguin is a social animal and to have just one would deny it the emotional attention it would require as it relies on it's group for survival so more than 4 are required to be kept together.
Can I keep a penguin as a pet?
Over the years we have often been asked about the possibility of
keeping penguins as pets. We are no experts, but we have talked to several. They all are completely against the idea. First off, all species of penguin are protected so that you could only (legally) get a penguin from a Zoo that had bred it.
Secondly, you would need a constant and reliable supply of fresh
frozen fish as well as appropriate vitamin supplements, you would also need to know a vet who was familiar with penguins and the many diseases they are prone to when kept in captivity.
Thirdly, you would need to be able to feed the birds every day so you couldn't take any more vacations! You can't just put a penguin into kennels!
Fourthly, you would need to build a suitable enclosure to keep the
bird - remember different species have very different environmental requirements (temperature, vegetation etc.). For example, there are no species of penguin that could live outside year round in say Chicago with its wide temperature variations. Plus all species of penguins require access to a large, deep and clean pool of water - preferably salt water.
Fifthly, penguins tend to live in large colonies - anything less than
say 20 birds would not be sufficient. So you would need a very healthy income. Zoo's here reckon it costs around 400 pounds (700 US$) per year just to keep a penguin in fish!
Finally, why would you want to keep penguins for yourself anyway? They are much better left in the wild or in well looked after breeding colonies in Zoos and Aquaria. Remember that nearly all species are endangered to some extent or another.
We would strongly discourage anyone from trying to keep a penguin as a pet - except the cuddly toy variety!
I work for the USDA
· 1 decade ago