Even Penguins Are Taking Antidepressants This Winter?


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Mariana Bazo / Reuters

Want to hear something depressing? British news outlets have reported that penguins are taking antidepressants.

The Guardian reports via the Guzelian news agency that windy, rainy weather has made the Humboldt penguins at the Sea Life Centre in Scarborough in northeastern England so miserable that they are being fed “uppers” in an attempt to lift the spirits of the animals, which are native to South America.

Display curator Lyndsey Crawford reportedly told the news outlet, “Humboldts in the wild on the coast of Peru and Chile can be subjected to some pretty wild extremes of weather. What they don’t get though is weeks of almost daily downpours and high winds.”

Rain can be deadly for penguins, and inclement weather’s detrimental effect on penguins in general has been in the news recently. A study published last month on the impact of climate change on the birds revealed that rainfall is “killing a lot of penguins,” particularly baby Magellanic penguins in Punta Tombo on the Argentinian coast, the New York Times reported. In a rainstorm, baby chicks can die from hypothermia if their down gets wet. As University of Washington scientist P. Dee Boersma told the Times, the penguins he studied “didn’t used to have to contend with this variability in the climate. And they certainly didn’t have to contend with all this rainfall.”

Update: An NBC News article quotes a “senior aquarist” at the Scarborough penguin sanctuary saying that the seabirds are technically on anti-fungal drugs that are supposed to reduce their stress levels, but they are not technically antidepressants.