Como Park Zoo features a fan-favorite penguin exhibit with nine African Penguins. Zoo goers delight in seeing the penguins launch into the water and waddle around their enclosure in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
But there is a health risk facing these penguins. It’s an oddly named condition called bumblefoot. No, bumble bees don’t have a vendetta against penguins, but abrasive surfaces do.
Bumblefoot occurs when penguins have constant foot pressure on the hard and abrasive concrete surface in their enclosure. The persistent pressure allows sores to develop, which bacteria can get into and cause problems.
In the wild, African penguins move around their dynamic environment. They spend time hunting for fish in the ocean, moving from sandy areas to rocky areas and even standing on boulders. But their enclosure environment isn’t as dynamic.
Yes, there is a swimming area. But the penguins still spend most of their time on the exhibit’s concrete rock work and that can increase their risk of bumblefoot.
Lowering the risk of bumblefoot is crucial to the Como Park Zoo staff and that’s where 3M’s Safety-Walk™ Wet Area Matting enters the picture. The matting helps give the penguins cushion and support from the concrete, which lowers their chance of developing sores.
Como Park Zoo Aquatics Zookeeper Kelley Dinsmore said 3M Safety-Walk helps the zoo’s prevention efforts against bumblefoot.
“If it is caught early, it is easily treated," Kelley said. “However, the best course of action is prevention and that is where the 3M Safety-Walk matting comes in. The matting provides softer areas and helps vary the surfaces they stand on. We have not had an issue with bumblefoot, in our penguin colony, since we started using the 3M matting years ago.”
Como Park Zoo has received this important matting donation from 3M for nearly 20 years and recently reached out to the company to get a fresh supply.
Craig Sykora in 3M’s Commercial Solutions Division was excited to help the penguins and Como Park Zoo.
“Safety-Walk is a great way to help keep the penguins at the Como Park Zoo comfortable and to protect their feet,” Craig said.” This was a fun opportunity to collaborate with the zookeepers to help keep our penguin friends happy.”
The zoo staff cut the mat into the sizes they needed and set up new relief spots for the penguins. The matting is used for wet areas typically and provides an anti-slip, comfortable and attractive walking surface suitable for barefoot and light shoe traffic.
Como Park Zoo also uses 3M Safety-Walk Wet Area Matting in the puffin exhibit to help decrease the risk of bumblefoot. 3M prides itself on offering solutions and expertise to the world. This project allowed 3M to do both.