Location: Penguin exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium

Featured guests: Aquarist Justine Curley, intern Lauren Carrier and Public Relations and Media Manager Alex Cauley

3 things that surprised me:

1. It’s mating season for the penguins, which can lead to some unusual behaviors. During our shoot, one penguin got especially cozy with camera operator Annie’s sneakers. As mating season progresses, the penguins nest by collecting a small mound of rocks on platforms that are located just through the stone arch visible at the back of the penguin area.

2. Male and female penguins look identical so after new penguins are born, the staff gives blood tests to each of the new chicks to determine their sex. To keep track of the birds, each penguin wears a band around its wing displaying its name.

3. The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium is home to one of the oldest penguins in the U.S. Mickey the macaroni penguin is 38 years old and will turn 39 on Nov. 20. Generally, wild macaroni penguins live 10 to 15 years. To celebrate her birthday, the staff will give Mickey a custom cake made from ice blocks and fish.

One thing that didn’t make the final cut: The aquarium kitchen is packed with a variety of fish and shellfish to feed all of its residents. Justine says the fish come from many of the same suppliers that deliver seafood to Pittsburgh restaurants.

Additional info: You can learn more about the penguins at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium and check in on them with their Penguin Cam.

Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our visit to the Frick Environmental Center and find out about all its sustainability features located both above and below ground.

Boaz is the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass video series. He is also an author, filmmaker, advertising copywriter, teacher, experiential storyteller, talk show host, gardener, kazoo museum curator and so much more.