VIP Penguin Experience Birmingham

Yesterday we went to Birmingham to feed the penguins at the sealife centre! After cooking some bacon sandwiches and purchasing a costa coffee we made our way to Birmingham and our first challenge of the day happened in the car park!

While I was waiting for the people ahead to pay for their carpark ticket they were having some trouble putting 5p’s and 10p’s into the machine as it kept rejecting them so gradually we all grouped together to help each other out.  The next couple had the same problem so I helped again and when it came to my turn the last 5p wouldn’t stay in the machine and I had ended up giving all of my change away to help the others I was pretty stuck!  Luckily one of the couples had stopped to help as they were walking out of the carpark and it made me restore my faith in the public and it was lovely to come together to help one another.

After popping the ticket in the car we eagerly made our way to the sealife centre with about 15 minutes to spare, we felt like VIP’s already when going through the pre-paid ticket section and were told to stand by a door near the ticket desk where Alison our penguin expert would be meeting us.  A couple of minutes later a lovely lady whose name I have forgotten met us and took us behind the scenes to meet Alison.  We were handed our sealife white onesies with the logo embellished on the back, put life jackets on and blue bags over our shoes!  I felt a little nervous as I have to admit I’m not good with smells and I don’t partially like fish let alone touching them but I was very excited at the same time.  We headed into a room where Alison spoke about the different penguins and explained another lady would be logging how much fish the penguins eat.  It did smell fishy but not overbearing and you soon get used to it.  I was very surprised to hear most of the penguins had come from New Zealand two years ago and as mating season was approaching they were gradually beginning to form couples and ‘bow’ to each other to show attraction. – They are also waiting for the arrival of some new penguins soon!  Alison explained one of the penguins has started bringing stones to another penguin and setting up a nest which means she has caught his eye which she was very excited about and it was lovely to hear the penguins are happy and content which is what you hope!  Alison also explained how to feed the penguins fish by holding the fish close to its head with your index finger over the fishes nose to ensure it is straight and not floppy as the penguins can be a little particular.

We finally made our way into the penguin enclosure and we quickly noticed a crowd of people the other side of the glass watching us!  It is surprising how quickly you forget that all of the people are watching you!  We knelt down and the penguins gradually came towards us in a big group – It was funny that once one walks the others follow, one even slipped over as it was walking quickly.  George fed the first penguin which I was delighted at and it ate it in one! It was strange feeding them as you have to direct the fish into the penguins mouth and then it gulps it down – I wasn’t too keen on seeing the fish go down in one!  I was proud of myself when holding the fish and didn’t freak out as I thought I would!

Alison explained that during this time of the year the penguins aren’t as hungry which was a little disappointing and it is something I wish I knew before booking this date as you want to get the most out of the experience and continuously feed them but as long as George was happy then I was fine.

Half way through the experience suddenly water started spraying from the pipes on the ceiling so we had to quickly dash out of the enclosure…apparently they only come on for 10 seconds and it just happened to be when we were in there.  It was pretty funny and gave us another funny memory to remember the experience by.  After we had been in the enclosure for a little while they penguins started making a noise which Alison explained meant they were ready to head into their lazy afternoon sleepy stage meaning they would not feed anymore so we headed back into the kitchen area to reflect and end the experience.  After we changed back into our clothes Alison showed us the gigantic turtle which you will see in my vlog from the feeding station area which meant we saw him up close without the glass.  This was a lovely thing to see and she explained how he weighed 30 stone which is more than two of George to put it in prospective! At the end of our experience we were presented with a goodie bag containing a certification for completing the experience, penguin soft toy, medal and penguin keyring.  After popping them back to the car we walked back to the sealife centre to explore and walked straight in avoiding the queues as we had our hands stamped before leaving previously.

I loved seeing the different species of fish and the jelly fish were mesmerising to watch.  Otters are always one of my favourite animals to see at sealife centres and I got some lovely footage of the giant sea turtle swimming!

At the very end of the experience we went to the photo desk to view our photos of the experience and we were both pretty disappointed with the results as they were either of George feeding the penguins and me blocked out or vice versa.  In the end the only picture of us both in it was with me feeding the penguins when I would have preferred to purchase one with us both in it and George feeding them.  I also think if you pay to do the penguin experience a photo should be included but I guess it’s just another way for them to make money which is bad.  The quality of the picture was no great either which I have fed back to them as I think this is important.

Watch the sealife centres promotional video for feeding the penguins here You no longer have to stand behind a glass barrier which was great.

After we popped to the bullring to explore and our bellies were rumbling so we re-fueled with a delicious burrito at Mission Burrito which I have eaten at before and recommended. Later George had some frozen yogurt and I managed to have a sneaky taste of…or rather a couple of spoonfuls! After getting stuck in traffic on the way home we stopped off at Subway for some dinner and scrolled back through the pictures and footage reminiscing of a fun packed day!