A WINCHESTER penguin has been given a helping hand – or suit – to combat his increasing feather loss.

Ralph the penguin, who lives at Marwell Zoo, needs an extra layer to keep the sun off his 15-year-old back as the weather improves over the summer months.

Now he’s been given a new and improved custom-made wetsuit to make sure he can swim with the best of them after wearing thin the one O’Neill sent him six years ago.

The team at O’Neill have worked closely with Ralph and his keeper to give a high performance to match his energetic lifestyle.

Anna Ing, team leader of birds at Marwell, said: “Ralph’s wetsuits see a lot of activity with him constantly on the go, swimming, climbing rocks and preening. He certainly looks the part with his custom made O’Neill wetsuit!

“He has been preening his wetsuit just as he would if he had feathers and his partner Coral has joined in too!

“Ralph is a very healthy bird, but for some reason his feathers drop out a long time before his new feathers grow back. Every year is different for Ralph and we can never be sure when he will lose his feathers but as soon as he starts looking bald we put the wetsuit on him.

“This will be the sixth year Ralph has had a wetsuit so he is used to wearing them and acts just like any other penguin in the colony.”

Craig Chennell, team manager and marketing assistant at O’Neill Wetsuits said: “Thanks to his constant testing and feedback O'Neill and Techneopro have produced a more comfortable and better performance wetsuit using our latest technologies.

“Ralph will now be better protected than ever allowing him to concentrate on the more important things without having to worry about getting cold or sunburned.”