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For Singapore penguins, shuttered zoo is flippin' fun

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Singapore (AFP)

One cute group is making the most of Singapore's partial virus lockdown -- penguins at the city-state's zoo, who are being given the run of the empty complex and revelling in the chance to do some exploring.

With the zoo closed to the public as the country battles a worsening virus outbreak, the African penguins had little in the way of stimulation without passers-by stopping to admire them.

So their keepers began taking them on outings around the complex, nudging the pint-sized explorers to check out the area around their exhibit and the children's playground.

The colony of around a dozen birds appeared unimpressed by the climbing-frame and the slide, and soon waddled off to the next section.

Further along, several life-sized models of sea lions -- which occasionally eat penguins in the wild -- gave them pause for thought.

But they soon regained their courage and were back to hopping over rocks, with a pair later splitting off from the main group to go and explore behind a shed.

As well as roaming the empty walkways of the zoo, the penguins have also been tackling an obstacle course which has been specially designed to keep them entertained.

They got their first glance as they jumped out of a pool in their sandy enclosure -- and initially stopped dead in their tracks, appearing baffled at the sight.

One brave soul timidly ventured onto the course, waddling slowly through the sand between colourful plastic balls, crossing a small bridge and navigating trenches, before the rest of the colony followed.

The zoo says the workout strengthens the creatures' leg muscles and helps them navigate new environments.

Their natural habitat is off the southwestern coast of Africa.

"The new normal presented opportunities for our African penguins to make discoveries at Singapore zoo," said the animal park's operator.

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