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This zoo spent tens of thousands on an enclosure and filled it with fake penguins

Visitors were not impressed

A penguin shortage means a UK zoo has had to fill its penguin enclosure with plastic models.

What it means: You can sort of see why visitors to the Exotic Zoo, in Shropshire, were a bit miffed to find out that instead of anything exotic they were going to see a bunch of fake penguins models made in Devon. The zoo said it had to improvise after an outbreak of bird malaria (no, honestly, it’s a real thing) killed off so many penguins that the supplier they’d ordered their penguins from had to cancel.

This is sad for both penguins and the Shropshire children hoping to see them, but it also shows how much businesses can lose from a breakdown in their supply chain. The supply chain is all the things a product has to go through before it is bought or experienced by a consumer. For most of human history, supply chains were really short - you’d plant a potato seed in your garden, water it until it grew potatoes, then eat the potato. But these days our world is really globalised and the stuff we use much more complicated to produce. A bit of iron goes through a heck of lots of stages and places before it ends up in your driveway as part of your car.

Having big global supply chains allows us to have lots of cool stuff. But it also means businesses are more and more likely to suffer because of a problem that is out of their control. Exotic Zoo says its new penguin enclosure cost it tens of thousands of pounds and was “the zoo’s most expensive to date”. It was supposed to open just before the summer holidays, to help the zoo compete for the business of families looking for things to do. The zoo may also take a hit to its reputation as, to quote one disappointed visitor, people “don’t expect to pay admission… and see models of animals instead of the real thing.”

Still, you’ve got to give Exotic Zoo props for creativity. After visitors weren’t that impressed by its fake penguins it came up with a new idea for the Christmas holidays… staff members are going to dress up in penguin costumes. Yes, really.

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