Denver, CO

Denver Zoo, Pinnacol urge Coloradans to 'walk like a penguin'

Sara B. Hansen

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A waddle of African penguins at Denver Zoo.(Courtesy Denver Zoo)

By Sara B. Hansen / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Sad but true, humans weren’t built to walk on snow and ice.

According to the National Safety Council, falls sent more than 8 million people to the emergency room in 2019. Falling is the nation’s leading cause of nonfatal preventable injuries and the second-leading cause of preventable injury-related deaths.

So, as Colorado and much of the U.S. cope with an Arctic blast of snow and ice, Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado's largest workers' compensation insurer, encourages people to walk like penguins.

When a group of penguins is on water, they’re known as a raft. But on land, they’re an appropriately named a waddle.

"When it comes to slipping and falling, it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Our natural human gait means we are naturally going to slip when there is ice," says Randy Philabaum, a Pinnacol safety consultant.

"When we mimic how penguins walk — short shuffles, angled feet, outstretched arms — it can help us stay on our feet and avoid dangerous falls. The waddle works!"

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Pinnacol created an acronym to help people learn how to waddle like a

P: Point your toes outward and walk flat-footed.

E: Extend arms for balance like flippers!

N: No unnecessary distractions.

G: Grippy shoes are a must.

N: Neat, short, shuffling steps.

"Everyone can learn to walk like a penguin," said Philabaum. "It's fun. It's easy. Workers, families, kids — everybody [should] join in and try to learn to walk like a penguin."

Partnership with Denver Zoo

Pinnacol is so committed to encouraging people to walk like penguins the insurer sponsored Denver Zoo’s new African penguin exhibit.

The $1.7 million exhibit includes a 10,000-gallon swimming pool, burrows and nesting areas, and an underwater viewing area. The exhibit lets guests watch how penguins walk and learn more about the birds from their caretakers.

African penguins are endangered in their native habitat on the southwestern African coast due to pollution, overfishing and other threats. But a waddle of 18 penguins lives safely at Denver Zoo.

"As a nonprofit wildlife conservation organization, Denver Zoo relies on the generosity of corporate sponsors like Pinnacol to help us create experiences that connect our communities to the natural world and inspire them to save wildlife for future generations," said Jake Kubié, Zoo director of communications.

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Sara is the Denver news manager for NewsBreak. She's held editing roles at The Denver Post, The Des Moines Register, and The Fort Collins Coloradoan.

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