Monday, July 28, 2014

Penguin of the Day

Magellan penguinA Magellanic Penguin feeling the heat and cooling down

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Penguin of the Day

Male Emperor penguins in a huddle

(Click image for full wallpaper size)

This Week's Pencognito!

Please be sure to visit Jen and all the pengies by clicking this link

SAPREC thrown a lifeline after SABC expose

Friday 25 July 2014
Tanya Krause
The Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre now has enough funds to keep it afloat until next year.
The Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre now has enough funds to keep it afloat until next year.(REUTERS)

A Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre (SAPREC) near Mossel Bay in the Southern Cape has been thrown a lifeline after the SABC exposed its plight.

SAPREC was on the brink of closure due to a lack of funding last month. Now enough donations have been received to keep the centre up and running.

SAPREC serves as a haven for sick and injured penguins and sea birds. They are nursed back to health and released back into the wild. The centre needs at least R5000 a month just to feed the birds and with donations drying up, they faced closure.

SAPREC owner, Carol Walton says: “We had the most fantastic response from the whole country, from businesses and from individual people. I want to say thank you so much to everybody in the whole country, you actually saved us and now we can continue with our work.”

The donations came just in time for their busy season. Walton adds: “June, July is our busy time and then December, January, so you saved us just in time. We have had 15 little penguins since June, released six and still got more that we are rehabilitating at the moment.”

The centre now has enough funds to keep it afloat until next year.


Magallanes penguins, ambassadors to Patagonia

25/07/2014 | CENPAT-CONICET

CONICET researcher describes the behaviour and some particularities of this bird that, among other species, has the largest number of individuals in all Patagonia.
Pinguino de Magallanes
Magallanes penguin. Photo: Marcelo Bertellotti.

There are about a million couples of penguins in the region. “One can imagine that the seagull is the most abundant bird in Patagonia; however, penguin populations are ten times larger and have very interesting social lives”, Marcelo Bertellotti, CONICET independent researcher of the National Patagonian Centre (CENPAT-CONICET), comments.

In the social imaginary, penguins are associated with polar climates. However, the Magallanes, Humboldt, and the South African penguins are four species of the same genus that are called “penguins of temperate waters”.

“Along their migratory routes, Magallanes penguins tend to reach places with high temperatures. This species leaves Patagonia chasing shoals of anchovies and goes up through the Atlantic towards the south of Brazil. They could even get to the height of Rio de Janeiro”, Bertellotti states.

Besides, according to the researcher, being exposed to low temperatures modifies some behaviors in the animals. The Antarctic penguins tend to concentrate and approach one another to withstand the cold or snowstorms. Emperor penguins, for instance, form a great mass by joining their bodies as a strategy to keep the heat and take turns to be either in the most exposed places of the periphery or in the protected areas, in the central part.

The seven year itch 
Sea birds in general are monogamous and penguins are not the exception. Couples that get together to mate certainly will meet the following years. They remain together during reproduction, for the six months in which they happen to be on land, and separate when migrating. In the following spring, the males come back to the same nest in which they used to be the previous season and they meet again with the females.

“This custom is repeated year after year but funnily divorces exist. Penguins tend to change their partners after a reproductive failure and that is the most probable explanation to understand the cause of the separation. Incidentally, divorces between penguins occur around the seventh year”, Bertellotti comments.

Penguin GPS 
Some sea animals, such as dolphins, are regarded as highly intelligent; however it is not common to have that opinion about birds and particularly penguins. Vasco da Gama, the explorer, described them as “silly birds”. That statement could be contradicted by some of this species’ behaviors associated with memory.

For the researcher, the penguin is completely amphibious. It spends most of its life on land to nest, laying eggs and raising offspring but half of its life happens only in the sea. For instance, one animal that swam from Punta Tombo up to Río de Janeiro spends six months in the water and accurately comes back to its home.

“Penguins have cognitive memory that allows them to find and come back to their nest, which is a tiny place they had left the previous season after crossing the great sea”, Bertellotti argues.

In 2013, Marcelo Bertelotti published Pingüino de Magallanes: Embajador de la Patagonia in order to provide the public with information, photos, statistics and detailed information of the lives of these singular birds.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Penguin of the Day

rockhopper penguin

Psst! Come See the New Penguin Chick at the Tennessee Aquarium (video)

Published on Jul 14, 2014
Aviculturists at the Tennessee Aquarium, like Loribeth Aldrich - seen in this video, welcomed a new baby penguin in June. This Macaroni Penguin chick is a very vocal baby bird and is always trying to beg for food from its parents. The parents, "Chaos" and "Merlin" seem to be doing a great job keeping up with this hungry chick. It is a rather pudgy penguin. Aquarium experts hope this "big mac" chick sets a good example for any baby penguins that follow. It has a laid-back personality and continues to show healthy weigh gains and growth. Learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium's Macaroni Penguins at:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Penguins of the Day

Kings Kings!

Think penguins are cute? A Natural World tv show review by a cynic

By Christopher Stevens
Natural World: Penguin Post Office (BBC 2) Rating: *****

Natural World: Penguin Post Office shows the bird's breeding cycle over a summer on the tiny British outpost of Goudier Island
Natural World: Penguin Post Office shows the bird's breeding cycle over a summer on the tiny British outpost of Goudier Island

Wildlife documentaries are often criticised for being twee, crammed with adorable fluff-bundles and doe-eyed darlings. They make us imagine the wilds are teeming with creatures that yearn to curl up on our sofas and snuggle. Remember March Of The Penguins, cinema’s 2005 surprise success? Narrator Morgan Freeman convinced us that they were seabird saints - moral guardians of the Antarctic.

All over America, evangelical churches ferried parishioners to the pictures in busloads, to celebrate the pious, monogamous penguins who mate for life. So it came as a bombshell to learn in Penguin Post Office (BBC2) that Morgan got it badly wrong. These birds are nothing less than sleazy gangsters in feather tuxedos. They’re thieving, sex-mad chick-murderers and they stink to high heaven.

At least no one is going to accuse director Andrew Graham-Brown of being twee.
His team filmed the bird’s breeding cycle over a summer on the tiny British outpost of Goudier Island, 700 miles south of Argentina, where volunteers man the planet’s most southerly gift shop and Post Office.

Once, this was a whaling station, and the evidence is still there of hardy seamen stranded for years at a time at the end of the world - images of Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe in flimsy negligees are painted lovingly on the walls.
But now it’s a busy tourist stop-off. 
Cruise ships bring 18,000 visitors a year, and they send nearly 80,000 postcards from the red Royal Mail postbox. ‘It’s kinda relaxing,’ smiled the postmistress, on sabbatical from her job teaching at a U.S. school, as she franked each stamp by hand.

This would be an icy idyll, if it weren’t for the 2,000 gentoo penguins. The tourists thought they were cute, but after a week of living cheek by beak beside them, you’d be begging the courts for a seabird Asbo. They steal incessantly. It would be safer to hand your house keys to a junkie than let a gentoo anywhere near your rockery.
The penguins in Natural World are 'nothing less than sleazy gangsters in feather tuxedos'
The penguins in Natural World are 'nothing less than sleazy gangsters in feather tuxedos'

Given half a chance, any gentoo will be having a fling with a neighbour, and they don’t care who finds out. Penguin morality would make a rabbit blush.
Domestic violence is rife. Husband and wife stab and peck at each other, jealously bickering about everything from their ramshackle stone nests to whose turn it is to sit on the egg. Chicks that stray from the nest will be viciously battered to death: penguins appear to enjoy violence.

On top of all that, the human volunteers have to spend every morning with a broom and buckets of hot water, knee-deep in rank droppings on their doorstep. Graham-Brown couldn’t have done a better hatchet job if he’d caught penguins dealing drugs to the cruise ship visitors.


Did You Know Penguins Have Knees?

For real. posted on July 24, 2014

Penguins are not known for their walking ability.

They tend not to be particularly graceful on land.


So you’d be forgiven for thinking their legs are just little stumpy things.

But it turns out they do in fact have knees.

Not that you would know it from looking at them waddle.

Exhibit A:

New England Aquarium / Via

Exhibit B:

This image shows a penguin’s legs bent at the knee.
New England Aquarium / Via
A penguin’s leg is made up of four bones: a short femur, a knee, a tibia, and a fibula. Their legs just look short and stubby because feathers cover the top parts. Walking has a higher energetic cost for penguins than it does for most birds. Scientists think this came about as a compromise between movement on land and in water.

They make up for all the waddling by being complete naturals in the water.

Seeing that penguins spend most of their lives in the sea, it makes sense for them to be adapted for swimming.

And it looks like those knees come in pretty handy when you just can’t be bothered to walk any more, too.

They grow up so fast: King penguin chicks at Newport Aquarium

By Derek White, Newport Aquarium PR Aide

King penguin chick

NEWPORT, Ky. – From their hatchings to now, it’s hard to believe how much Newport Aquarium’s king penguin chicks, Mario and Luigi, have grown in just eight weeks and five days.

If you can spot them on any given day in the Kroger Penguin Palooza exhibit, you will notice they are nearly as tall as the adult king penguins.

You will also notice the chicks are covered in a dark brown colored fur with no signs of the species’ trademark tuxedo.

The adolescent king penguins normally suits such colors in their younger age before growing to full adult status.

If this is confusing, don’t worry because you’re not alone. In fact when king penguins we’re first discovered in the wild, explorers were confused as well and even believed them to be a different species, donning them the name, “wooly penguin.”

King penguin chick 2

Of course, upon further observation and as the penguins aged, the fur diminished and the familiar tuxedo began to appear just as they will here soon at Newport Aquarium. The quick growth is in part to how much they’re being fed, which is normal for their age.

The parents are still feeding the chicks by beak and are making sure they’re staying well fed. As of right now the king penguin chicks are just about the size of a full adult and weight approximately eight pounds each. Stay tuned as we continue to keep you updated on our newest additions to our penguin family here at Newport Aquarium.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Penguin of the Day

One of National Geographic's most beloved images... a pair of Gentoo chicks
Click on image for giant, poster size