"Because penguins are so susceptible to fungus, bacteria, and parasites, it is imperative that they have clean air to breathe," Winders explained. She went on to say that it is "simply impossible" to meet this requirement when transporting penguins on an airplane, where recirculating air is often packed with contaminants. Given that penguins are native to the southern hemisphere, air travel is usually required to get them to public appearances.
But the public appearances themselves can also pose threats to penguins. According to Chris Draper of the Born Free Foundation, the unnatural environments penguins encounter at human events simply cannot replicate any aspect of their lives in the wild. And those same stressors of changing environments and performance still affect penguins regardless of where they're raised.
"We regularly hear the argument that, as the animals used were raised in captivity, it is somehow more acceptable to use them than their wild counterparts," Draper explained. But, he says, this simply isn't true. "Even if a penguin is raised in captivity, it still has the same basic social, behavioral, and physiological requirements as a wild penguin, and those needs simply cannot be met being moved around between environments."