Central Veterinary Associates Performed Weaning and Routine Health Screenings on Penguins during Filming.
“Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” a movie starring Jim Carrey, is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Dr. Ernest Vine, Dr. John Charos and Dr. Laura Gorman worked on the set of the film, as they were responsible for checking the penguins’ health status and preparing them for the transition to a saltwater environment.
These penguins were born in a zoo in Canada and were hand-picked for the film. They were sent to Steiner Studios in Brooklyn under strict supervision from a penguin specialist. To ensure the penguins’ health for travel, the movie studio also required international health certificates from Dr. Vine, an experienced veterinarian licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, after the filming took place in order to ship the penguins internationally.
At the movie studio, the penguins had a specially refrigerated environment designed and built for their health and well-being, including a custom-built coldwater Jacuzzi. To prepare them for their new home, Dr. Charos added incremental amounts of salt water to their diet. This addition of salinity, called weaning, allowed the vestigial supraorbital glands — the glands which allow the penguins to live in and drink salt water and to remove the salt from the water — to fully develop again.
Upon the completion of filming, the penguins were brought to a facility in Hong Kong that was built specifically for them. They will stay there until a new facility in China is completed. Before the penguins were shipped to Hong Kong, Dr. Charos and Dr. Gorman performed monthly checkups and blood work and tested them for West Nile Virus and Avian Influenza. The blood samples were specially prepared and shipped to the University of Georgia’s Infectious Disease Department. The penguins were also checked for Aspergillosis, a group of illnesses caused by mold, and Bumblefoot, a bacterial infection mostly found on the feet of birds.
CAPTION (Top Photo):
Dr. Laura Gorman (left) and Dr. John Charos (right) perform blood work on one of the penguins during the filming of “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn.
CAPTION (Bottom Photo):
One of the penguins enjoys a meal. Dr. Charos added gradual amounts of salt water to the penguins’ diets so their vestigial supraorbital glands can fully develop again.