Depressed penguins given happy pills

If the wet and windy weather is making you miserable you are not alone – penguins staying on our shores are sharing your pain.
The birds are being given antidepressants because the British climate is making them sad.

Staff at the Scarborough Sea Life Sactuary, in Yorkshire, are putting the ‘happy pills’ into the gills of dead fish during feeding time.

The South American seabirds hail from Chile and Peru and are used to a sunnier climate.

It is the first time the dozen Humboldt penguins at the sea life centre have needed the sporanox pills because of the woeful weather.

Lyndsey Crawford, the centre's display curator, said: “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,” she added.

“After the first week our birds were just a bit subdued, but after over a month now, they are thoroughly fed-up and miserable, much like the rest of us.

“They’re 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.“

Depression can lower the body's natural defences in penguins even more than in humans, experts claim.

The Humboldt penguin, also known as the Peruvian penguin and the Patranca, is named after the Peruvian cold water current it swims in.

But it is not the first time the penguins have been given medication at the Scarborough centre. In 2011, they were given antidepressants after suffering stress following a break-in.

They were left traumatised after a trespasser broke in and chased them.

Penguins are particularly vulnerable to any change of routine, but staff said they recovered from the incident.

Long-term stress plays havoc with the immune system and increases the chances of catching a cold for both penguins and humans.