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Kids at Seattle Children’s Pick Sweet Name for Penguin Chick

Posted by Lauren Carroll-Bolger, Communications

Humboldt penguin chick, Yolanda! Photo: Celine Pardo/Woodland Park Zoo

One of Woodland Park Zoo’s Humboldt penguin chicks was named by kids at Seattle Children’s, and we are delighted to share the name they have chosen for this penguin is YOLANDA! Our Animal Care Team provided four names for the children to vote on, and Yolanda, meaning violet, was the clear winner.

Help us give a warm welcome to Yolanda!

Hello, Yolanda! Photo: Celine Pardo/Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo partners with Seattle Children’s to provide uplifting virtual animal experiences for the hospital’s long-term patients. Monthly virtual experiences range from rhino feedings to veterinary exams for the animals, and the kids get to spend time asking questions and getting to know the animals and staff. In previous months, animal keeper Celine Pardo introduced the kids to our Humboldt penguins which led to an opportunity for the children to name our newest chick.

“I cannot tell you how overjoyed and meaningful these visits are to me. It truly means the world to be a part of the kids’ day and to get to talk with them, and the children are so inspiring,” Pardo commented. When a little female penguin was hatched to parents Leonardo and Rosalita on April 2, 2022, Pardo offered the kids at Seattle Children’s the opportunity name this new chick.

Kids at Seattle Children's chose the name for the penguin chick by casting a ballot (seen here) or by creating their own pictures. Photo: Courtesy, Seattle Children's

Over the course of a month, the children voted for their favorite name by drawing a picture or using a ballot created by Seattle Children’s Playroom Coordinator. Some children were so delighted to name this chick that they also collected votes from their nurses and doctors! Then, the patients joined a zoom call in July to meet the penguin virtually and hear the winning name.

Kids had the option to "vote" on a name for the chick by drawing a picture. Photo: Courtesy, Seattle Children's

During the zoom call, Pardo showed the children the penguin chick and gave them the opportunity to submit any last votes.

Animal Curator Rachel Salant, who was behind the camera, pointed out that the colored bands the penguin wears on her arm are for identification and asked if any of the children wear wristbands for identification. The kids proudly held up their ID wristbands and, in this moment, shared a relatable connection with the little penguin chick.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Once all the votes were counted, Pardo announced the name of the new penguin chick. The kids had chosen Yolanda and gave her the nickname ‘Yo Yo’!

“This is truly what it is all about and exactly why we [animal keepers and zoo staff] are here,” Pardo said after the Zoom.

Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

After Yolanda’s name was revealed, Learning Coordinator Terra Herrman led the children in a pipe cleaner penguin art project as a keepsake from this experience.

The kids got to make their own penguin keepsake out of pipe cleaners! Photo: Terra Hermann/Woodland Park Zoo

Yolanda is a hatchling of Woodland Park Zoo’s Humboldt penguin breeding programs, the most successful of its kind in North America.

Currently, Yolanda loves listening to the songs “Julia” and “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles, and like her Humboldt penguin family, can be very noisy. The loud Humboldt penguins sound like donkeys braying, and on your next visit, you can listen closely to see if you can hear Yolanda!

Every visit to the zoo to meet Yolanda and our other animals supports conservation of animals in the wild. This includes Humboldt penguin conservation in Punta San Juan, Peru, a marine reserve that protects habitat, educates local communities, provides safety with a protective wall, and conducts ongoing research to secure a future for Humboldt penguins and all the species that share its ecosystem.

If you want to further support Humboldt penguins, you can help by making smart choices when eating seafood by using the Seafood Watch program at to learn what seafood to pick and what to avoid.

Animal Keeper Celine and the Humboldt penguin colony at Woodland Park Zoo


Anonymous said…
Thank you to our amazing playroom coordinator, Ursala, for organizing this and bringing our patients so much joy!!