Isabel and Isadore

With their dapper black-and-white attire and gregarious personalities, Galápagos penguin pair Isabel and Isadore charmed early Zoo visitors—in high style.
  • 1930s
  • 1940s

“Hippity hop they go, waddling in a row, straight one behind the other.” Thus read an early ZOONOOZ article about the Galápagos penguins that made their home at the Zoo. Each day, Isabel and Isadore, apparently the species’ feathered “first pair,” led a procession of their fellow penguins through the Zoo and to the Mirror Pool. Grownups and children alike gathered to watch the little parade, giggling at the birds’ comical gait, and then applauding when the birds dove into the water and swam. They were ever so graceful, using their wings in a kind of breaststroke to swim to a rock or other surface where they could sun themselves.

Perhaps it was their seemingly idyllic life, along with their natty “wardrobe” and somewhat bemused attitude that stirred one captivated writer to wonder, “Whether you think of them as little people from another world, or whether you think of them as rare specimens to be found only on that one group of islands, young and old alike will be charmed by their antics, and attracted and interested by their quaint appearance.” And the caption on a March 1939 photo of Isabel and Isadore? “Surely there is no more handsome bird alive.” Even movie stars—like Patricia Morrison, a Paramount Pictures actress—usually had one request when visiting the Zoo: to feed the penguins.

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