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SEA LIFE Kelly Tarltons’ penguin love story!

  • Friday 21st October 2022
  • SEA LIFE Kelly Tarltons


Buster and 99 celebrate their silver (25 year) nesting anniversary together


While many people would be surprised to know that despite the myth, penguins don’t always mate for life, this isn’t the case for Gentoo Penguin couple Buster and 99 who have been together for a quarter of a century!

The loved-up couple are celebrating their silver (25 years) nesting season together this year at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium.

The happy couple have reared 19 babies together, including their eldest Goofy who turns 25 this year and was their very first chick when the pair first nested together.


“We are so happy to see Buster & 99 coupling up for yet another nesting season this year – as they are our longest-standing couple in the Gentoo Penguin colony. After 25 years together the pair have their nesting routine down pat, and year after year we see them sharing the nest building and egg incubating responsibilities like the seasoned parents they are!” said Penguin Keeper Amy Wardrop.

What makes a penguin pairing so successful?

  • When courting each other for the nesting season, Gentoo Penguins will be seen to call and bow to each other, spending a lot of time together.
  • During the nesting period and beyond, Gentoo Penguins share equal responsibilities including collecting rocks, nest building and child raising.
  • The ritual of collecting rocks is practical – as the pebbles are a valuable nest building activity. A pair of Gentoo Penguins will already be closely bonded before they begin bringing pebbles to each other to build their nest.



Wardrop sheds light on the nesting ritual, “due to the harsh nature of the Sub-Antarctic islands where the Gentoo Penguins call home, it is extremely hard to raise a chick. Unlike other birds

where one parent can raise a whole clutch of eggs by themselves, both penguin parents need to work together to successfully raise their chicks.”

“Biologically speaking, it is crucial that penguins make sure they are with good partner. They can't afford to have a partner that isn't very good at catching food or finding nesting material because this means that their chicks are very unlikely to make it to adulthood. "

For 25 years in a row, Buster has proven himself to be the very best nest builder in 99’s eyes!