Spreewelten Adventure Pool
Please note: The following text is an interview or story from a previous year. Please do not draw any conclusions from it about events currently taking place or statistics etc.
Spreewald Journal Issue: January/February 2016
Interview with Steven Schwerdtner: "The welfare of the penguins is our top priority."
A unique experience awaits visitors to the Spreewelten Bad in Lübbenau: here they can swim with Humboldt penguins. And yes, even though the feathered tails are not usually at home in the Spreewald Biosphere Reserve, they feel completely at home in the Spreewelten. Of course, winter is the season of penguins, or so people think. But is that really true? Reason enough to talk to Steven Schwerdtner from Spreewelten.
Mr Schwerdtner, you have two keepers who look after the penguins with great love for the animals. What makes working with the Humboldt penguins so special? "The daily interaction with our 27 animals at the moment, of which we have 17 in the permanent stock, is one thing above all: varied. The penguins' well-being is our top priority. This also includes encouraging their intelligence and playfulness. Our penguins are among the best trained in all of Germany - especially Flocke, who was hand-raised as a chick and is therefore even familiar with penguin documentaries from television." Humboldt penguins actually live on the Pacific coast of Peru and Chile. How much do they like winter in Brandenburg now? "They really feel at home in the wintry Spreewald. Fatty food, pleasantly temperate water and winter quarters with underfloor heating ensure that the penguins always remain agile, even now. After all, the animals don't really know snow. Their wing tips and feet are particularly sensitive. But in the meantime, our animals have become accustomed to the relatively cold winter here." The bathing fun at Spreewelten Bad takes place right next to and with the penguins. What is the most beautiful thing about the encounters that you thus create between humans and animals? "The greatest and most surprising thing is probably that we didn't expect the high level of interaction between the penguins and our guests. Humboldt penguins are cute, droll animals that visibly enjoy contact with humans. They mimic our diving bathers, are ring bearers for marriage proposals and are only too happy to be fed by birthday children visiting the bath." In addition to fun swimming with penguins, Spreewelten offers real penguin lessons. How did this concept come about, which enriches school lessons in an original and interesting way? "The idea is to couple swimming fun with an educational background. We clearly want to impart knowledge and put the protection of the penguins first. That's why we developed our penguin lessons in cooperation with a former biology teacher. These are based on the school curriculum and include both elementary basics and extensive projects on behavioural biology. Whether it's daycare groups or upper secondary school students - everyone learns vividly with us." Why should school classes, families or Spreewald fans in general not miss out on meeting Flocke, Don Juan & Co? "The experience of interacting with Humboldt penguins in such close proximity is unique in the world. After all these years, I'm still completely thrilled. When diving with the animals, the separating glass pane is forgotten. And watching the animals for hours never gets boring. A visit to Spreewelten is a pleasure for the whole family."