Harsh British Winter Results in Penguins Using Antidepressants

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The U.K’s exceptionally rough, windy, and rainy winter had some Humboldt penguins in such desperate need of sunlight that the zoo gave them anti-depressants to lift their mood.

The Humboldt penguins in Sea Life Centre zoo are used to the occasional harsh weather in their consistently warmer native climate of Peru’s and Chile’s coastal regions. However, the U.K’s exceptionally rough, windy, and rainy winter had the animals in such desperate need of sunlight that the zoo gave them anti-depressants to lift their mood.

Much like people, penguins can have their “natural defenses” lowered by unexpected life changes and increased stress. While it’s unknown if the zoo attempted any other treatments first, they decided to calm the penguins with the same drugs that helped the birds lay eggs again after a trespasser chased them around in 2011.

According to zoo curator Lyndsey Crawford, the penguins’ mood has gotten increasingly worse over a month’s time. She said the drugs are “doing the trick so far, but we are all praying for the weather to change and at least a few successive days of sunshine to give the penguins the tonic they really need.”

However, the weather forecast isn’t very hopeful, showing more clouds and rain to come. A recent report from Britain's Meteorological Office stated that parts of the country are facing “one of, if not the most, exceptional periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years.”

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