It was a sporting contest with a difference when the African penguins took on the eider ducks at Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo.

It might not have been the standard of play we’re used to seeing in the Rugby World Cup, but it was an open game with plenty of running – or at least, waddling. The ducks enjoyed flying down the wing while the penguins’ strength was clearly in their pack – or was that their peck?

To be honest, it wasn’t the best pitch, as it was sloping, sandy and one end was distinctly waterlogged… Play is good for penguins, ducks and other animals; the ball provided what behaviour experts call environmental enrichment. Novel objects are great for stimulating animals mentally and physically; scents, sounds, puzzles and food-based enrichment are also used in zoos. For more information go to or ring 01803 202470.

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