The attire was black and white Tuesday afternoon when several Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy students, dressed in their team’s black and white jumpsuits, visited their team’s adopted mascot at the Santa Barbara Zoo — a Humboldt penguin in the Foster Feeder Program.
A private sponsor made the unique Premier Foster Feeder opportunity possible, which enables the students to enjoy naming rights for the animal.
The 9-year-old female penguin, hatched on April 9, 2003, at the Philadelphia Zoo, has been at home at the Santa Barbara Zoo for the past five years, sharing her home with 17 other penguin buddies. As Premier Foster Feeders, DPEA students faced the challenge of finding a suitable name for their mascot.
Fifty-three names were suggested, and sophomore Amaris Uribe submitted the winning entry: “1717ina” (pronounced “Seventeen-Seven-Tina”), aka “Tina.”
Before seeing Tina, the students had an up-close encounter with Pee-Gloo, one of the zoo’s animal ambassadors. Pee-Gloo was hand-raised and as a result is very comfortable around humans. After meeting Pee-Gloo, the students visited the penguin exhibit to see Tina and the exhibit plaque, which reads: “1717ina ‘Tina’ sponsored by the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy ‘D’Penguineers.’” Zoo officials presented DPEA Director Amir Abo-Shaeer with a framed certificate and photo of Tina.
A little-known fact about Tina, who sports a red/yellow wing tag, is that she loves to follow shadows and “play” with the guests through the viewing glass.
At Tuesday’s introduction to the team’s new mascot, the Santa Barbara Zoo generously supported the celebration by providing an ice cream sundae bar for the students’ enjoyment.
On April 25-28, Tina will be with the D’Penguineers in spirit when the robotics team competes at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis.
To visit Tina or learn more about the Foster Feeder Program, stop by the Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Ninos Drive. You will recognize her. Like her human counterparts on Team 1717, Tina is the one dressed in black and white.
— Barbara Keyani is administrative services and communications coordinator for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.