NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - It's hard to say who was more curious about who - the kids, or the penguin.
Saba, a 17-year-old African penguin who lives at Jenkinson's Aquarium, paid a visit to the New Providence Library on Monday as part of an ongoing outreach program that teaches children about different kinds of small animals.
Saba, who came in a pet carrying case, traveled with Melissa Acerra and Nick Scoras of Jenkinson's Aquarium. The penguin, who was born at the aquarium in 1995, often does these kinds of trips.
Before Saba came out of her cage, Acerra talked with the nearly 130 kids and parents about different kinds of penguins, their habits and habitats, and what they could expect when Saba came out. While penguins in the movies are cute and cuddly, Acerra warned that in real life, penguins often bite.
She showed pictures of different sizes of penguins, and passed around a plastic sleeve that encased a number of penguin feathers, all tiny. She also explained that only a small number of penguins live in cold climates and that most love hot weather and live on the beach.
While Acerra opened Saba's carrying case, she warned the children not to try and pet the penguin. All eyes were on the cage and necks craned forward as Saba waddled out and took a look around.
"She's not big on walking," Acerra said. "She likes to be carried."
She did walk a little, though, as the curious spectacle of so many children needed closer inspection. Acerra also picked her up and carried her through the crowd.
Jenkinson's Aquarium, located in Point Pleasant Beach, is dedicated to the education, conservation and care of life from aquatic habitats.