Get to know who's who among our fabulous, feathered friends—as well as the human caregivers who share their insights with us each episode.
Meet the Cast of Penguin beach
He’s an awkward youngster who must find his place in the pecking order of the established colony. Jack’s days are filled with attempts at connecting with the much bigger and older penguin residents, while trying to avoid conflict at every turn.
Rocko is the pair-bond mate to Hoover, another male penguin. Rocko and Hoover have such a good relationship, keepers believe they could be responsible enough to receive a “foster egg” to care for.
Hoover came to the Zoo with his longtime male partner, Rocko, and they remain devoted to each other. Hoover spends his time lying next to and preening Rocko. Any birds attempting to cross into their territory and/or flirt with his mate are quickly chased away.
She’s sweet as pie, and completely devoted to brash and dominating male penguin Austin. Elizabeth works hard to be the most attentive companion, but Austin’s behavior means he doesn’t share nest duties very well.
Heavyset and on a diet, Austin is the not-too-thoughtful mate of “nice girl” Elizabeth. Austin tends to waddle around with an air of authority, but it could all just be false bravado.
McKinney is a nice bird who loves spending time with his keepers, as well as with his main squeeze, female penguin Courtney.
Best known as McKinney’s girl, Courtney is devoted to her mate and to building the relationship. The duo has such a strong bond that it shouldn’t be a surprise if they produce a chick in the near future.
An incorrigible flirt, Lori may be young, but she’s already decided that the most important thing in her life is the company of male penguins. When she isn’t out looking for boys or stealing them from other females, she enjoys long waddles on the beach or a long swim.
The younger partner of male penguin DG, Harlan is an attentive and protective pair-bond mate. But is DG really the one he wants to safeguard?
No stranger to a love triangle, older female Katy once shared her mate with another of the colony’s female residents. Currently, Katy has her eye set on someone else’s male partner—but this time, it appears she wants that male all to herself.
An older bird, DG is the longtime pair-bond mate to younger male Harlan. Together the two built a nest, and they appear content. But as the saying goes, looks can be deceiving.
A fierce competitor at the feeding bucket, Gayle is the colony’s supreme fish lover—and she’s a girl who seems to be fine with being single. The question is, will she stop eating long enough to notice the interest of all the boys around her?
An expert in penguin husbandry, Lara worked for six years at SeaWorld San Diego’s Penguin Encounter and its Bird Conservation and Rehabilitation Center before joining the San Diego Zoo’s Bird department. Here, she helps care for the Zoo’s more than 30 penguins at the Dan and Vi McKinney Penguin Habitat in Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks. Lara is very passionate about penguins, and she enjoys observing the bird’s mercurial personalities and dramatic behaviors.
Debbie is a veteran bird keeper with more than 25 years of experience taking care of penguins. After leaving SeaWorld San Diego, she helped the San Diego Zoo start its first large-scale penguin colony at Africa Rocks. After more than two years, the birds have worked their way deep into Debbie’s heart, and she enjoys watching the changing dynamics of the colony—including seeing relationships form and dissolve, and all the spectacle in between.
With more than 29 years of experience taking care of over nine species of penguins, it's safe to say Tad knows his way around a colony. He joined the San Diego Zoo team three years ago, after leaving SeaWorld San Diego, where he worked as a bird keeper covering the organization's Penguin Encounter. Out of all the penguin species, Tad has claimed African penguins as his favorite. He loves their big personalities, the building of different relationships, and the massive amount of drama they conjure up. He even managed to pique the interest of female penguin Lori—which proves our resident seductress does not discriminate based on species.