Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Penguins of the Day

king penguin feeding 

King penguin feeding by ricardo00

2 Penguin Chicks Hatch at California Academy

Penguin Exam
Two African penguin chicks have recently hatched at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, officials announced Tuesday.

The gray, fluffy chicks hatched just days apart on November 1 and November 4 and are nesting with their parents, the academy said.

The chicks the size of a tea cup will go through "fish school" where they will learn to become proficient swimmers and get comfortable with eating hand-fed fish. Once they are ready they will join the penguin colony on exhibit in late January.

The academy's new chicks are the second and third to be hatched as part of its Species Survival Plan program. In January 2013, the academy hatched its first chick since moving into its new Golden Gate Park facility in 2008.

African penguins were classified as an endangered species in 2010 and are at very high risk of extinction in the wild. "By engaging the public about why sustaining these and other threatened species is so critical, we hope to inspire people around the world to join us by supporting conservation efforts locally and internationally," said Bart Shepherd, Director of the Academy's Steinhart Aquarium.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Penguins of the Day--South Georgia Island


South Georgia 31 by macareux24


South Georgia 15 by macareux24

A Detroit TV station’s Penguin Cam gives you a glimpse of the average penguin day

Watch Penguin Cam Live: Sneak a Peek of Detroit Zoo's Penguins
WDIV-TV, Channel 4, has placed a camera at the Detroit Zoo’s Penguinarium, where three sub-Antarctic species of penguins – king, macaroni and rockhopper – live.

The penguinarium is the first facility in North America with habitat created specifically for penguins. A continuous pool surrounding the three-sided habitat allows the penguins to swim fast enough to porpoise, or “fly through the water,” as they would in the wild.

The TV station’s camera is live daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET, the zoo said on its Facebook page,
Construction is under way on what will become the largest exhibit in the United States dedicated to penguins after receiving a $10 million gift from the family of Stephen Polk, the former CEO of R.L. Polk Co.

Zoo officials “ broke the ice” on the Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center in June. The 18-month, $21 million project is the most ambitious to date for the zoo.

When complete at the end of 2015, the iceberg-like center will host 80 penguins of four species on the 2.1-acre site near the entrance of the zoo in Royal Oak.


BBC’s Snow Chick to follow penguin’s battle to survive, from egg to adolescent

Documentary’s producer says account of chick’s struggle against rivals and -60C blizzards is ‘one of greatest wildlife stories ever’
Emperor penguin chicks huddling together as blizzards with temperatures of -60 blow across Antarctic
Emperor penguin chicks huddling together as blizzards with temperatures of -60 blow across Antarctica. Photograph: Frans Lanting/Getty/Mint Images
The BBC is to air Snow Chick, a natural history documentary about a baby emperor penguin battling for survival in the Antarctic.

The BBC1 programme follows the story of the emperor penguin chick from egg to adolescence and its battle for supremacy with Adélie penguins – the same species as the computer-generated stars of the John Lewis Christmas ad, Monty and Mabel.

Scientists warned this year that emperor penguins may be at risk of extinction due to disappearing sea ice.

Snow Chick shows the chick’s fight for survival against the odds in Antarctic blizzards and temperatures of -60C, while his parents take turns trekking 50 miles to the sea to bring back food.
According to the BBC, the programme shows the emperor chick’s world being “turned upside down by the arrival of Adélie penguins” as the emperors now occupy their summer breeding grounds. The chicks must “fight for their very survival.”

Snow Chick follows Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, which was aired on BBC1 last year and is being made by the same producer, John Downer. He said: “No other animal faces so many challenges on its journey from birth to adulthood – Snow Chick quite simply will offer viewers one of the greatest wildlife stories ever told.”

Tom McDonald, BBC acting head of commissioning for science and natural history, said: “It is a tale full of drama and pathos as well as comedy and character – emotionally uplifting and intensely moving in equal parts and one that I am sure viewers will love.”

Filming has already started on the one-off hour-long programme, which will be shown towards the end of next year.

Penguins may be under threat but their appeal endures, as John Lewis has discovered.

The retailer’s lovelorn penguin advert has had more than 15m views on YouTube since it was released on 6 November and has inspired a range of gifts, from a book called Monty’s Christmas to penguin onesies, toys and tablecloths.

There has been such demand for the Monty and Mabel toys that, according to the John Lewis website, the figures are currently out of stock.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Meet the rare baby penguin hand-reared at Birdland

The first King Penguin to be born in England for seven years has been introduced to its penguin family. “Big Chick” hatched in September, and keepers at Birdland Park & Gardens have been hand-rearing the baby bird to make sure it was healthy and happy.

Keepers hand-reared "Big Chick" until he was old enough to live with his family
Keepers hand-reared "Big Chick" until he was old enough to live with his family Credit: Birdland Park & Gardens

But now "Big Chick" has been reunited with its family—with mum, gran and Uncle Norman all on hand to welcome it home.

You can watch this pint-sized penguin’s journey from hatchling to happy-families below:

As the only group of King Penguins in the country, each new arrival at Birdland is very precious. Hand-rearing means chicks are more likely to survive into adulthood.

The King Penguin is the second largest penguin species in the world, and can reach a statuesque two feet tall. “Big Chick” has a long way to go before then, but Head Keeper Alistair Keen is pleased with the baby bird’s progress.

He or she will have to wait a while before getting a proper name however—keepers will be unable to find out the penguin’s gender for another six months.

Proud parents Lily and Frank
Proud parents Lily and Frank Credit: Birdland Park & Gardens

Don't Look Now--Seals caught on camera trying to have sex with penguins (video)

  • By Olivia Solon

Seals in a sub-Antarctic island have been observed sexually harassing king penguins on several occasions

Antarctic fur seals have been recorded trying to have sex with king penguins on multiple occasions - leading researchers to believe it's a new, learned behaviour that's on the rise.

This sexual behaviour was first documented back in 2006, when a fur seal tried to mount a king penguin on the sub-Antarctic Marion Island.

Biologists initially thought it was simply the behaviour of a sexually inexperienced seal, or a predatory act.

However, three new cases on the same island - captured on film for a study in the journal Polar Biology - have led researchers to believe that it's a trend.

In each case, the seal - which is much larger and heavier than the penguin - chases down the flightless bird (which could be male or female), captures it and mounts it. It then attempts to have sex a number of times, with breaks in between.

The penguins don't seem that happy about this new trend
The penguins don't seem that happy about this new trend
  In some cases the seals seemed to penetrate the penguin's 'cloaca' - the opening through which both male and female birds mate.

In three of the cases the seal let the penguin go after the attack, but in one case the seal ended up eating the penguin (seals are the penguins' natural predator).

“One penguin [of the three that were released] did have visual signs of injury (bloody cloaca) but was able to walk and rejoin a huddle of penguins after the event," researcher Nico de Bruyn, from the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, told Mirror Online.

"The others showed no visual signs of injury although they were obviously exhausted and there is no way of telling whether they had internal injuries.”

Fur seals are much larger than king penguins
Fur seals are much larger than king penguins
 It's the first time that animals from the seal family have been observed trying to have sex with an animal from a different biological class - in this instance a mammal trying it on with a bird.

It's a mismatched union: Antarctic fur seals grow up to up to 2 metres long and can weight between 91kg and 215kg. King penguins, on the other hand, are much smaller, measuring between 70cm and 100cm tall and weighing up to 16kg.

De Bruyn told the BBC that the behavior may be because male seals see each other sexually harassing penguins and then attempt to do it themselves.

The behaviour could be exacerbated by the sexual frustration experienced by seals as they experience hormonal surges during mating season.

He said that it was very unlikely that it was down to a seal wrongly identifying a penguin as a female seal, but de Bruyn feels that it the behaviour is increasing in frequency.

“The drivers of this behavior are almost impossible to understand, but continued observation and reporting can help,” de Bruyn told us.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

​Penguin love story at Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek

By WBGraeme  |  Posted: November 16, 2014
  • Yoni (right) and Pine, residents at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary
  • Yoni (right) and Pine, residents at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary
  • Yoni (right) and Pine, residents at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary
  • Yoni (right) and Pine, residents at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

A REAL-LIFE penguin love story has been playing out at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. The centre at Gweek normally takes in seals, of course, particularly seal pups who are treated at the animal hospital. However it is also home to Humboldt penguins. Last year, a new bird called Pine by staff was introduced to the sanctuary’s resident colony.

It was hoped he would pair-up with single female Lola. The blind date was featured on television documentary Caroline Quentin’s Cornwall, but viewers never got to see the surprising outcome. The sanctuary’s Eileen Keeling said: “There was indeed a happy ending, but for four of the colony’s residents rather than just two.”

She said Lola and Pine liked each other well enough, but it was sad Gilbert – whose original partner Ruby had passed away a year earlier – who stole Lola’s heart. The pair are now inseparable and Pine has also found love, with the sole remaining unattached female Yoni. “They are the youngest of our birds, and until recently were more concerned with having fun than with romance,” added Mrs Keeling. “Just lately though our animal care team have noticed the pair indulging in more and more canoodling and mutual preening.”

They live with another pair of long-term penguin partners, Ivy and Piran. “Seeing their relationship blossom has been a really heart-warming experience,” added Mrs Keeling. “Now they are a proper pair it has made our Christmas already, and guaranteed a happy and affectionate festive season for all six of our birds.”


How Monty and Mabel's romance is helping WWF protect penguins from climate change

MONTY and Mabel's sentimental love story will have television viewers reaching for their hankies as fast as their John Lewis store cards this festive season.

A shot of an Adélie penguin and chick from David Tipling’s new book 
A shot of an Adélie penguin and chick from David Tipling’s new book. DAVID TIPLING

The penguin stars of the undisputed best Christmas commercial for years are melting the hearts of the iciest of television viewers with their schmaltzy romance seen through the eyes of a young boy.
Such is the authenticity of the penguins' performances that most people find it hard to fathom that Monty and Mabel are computer-generated images rather than real flightless birds.

Sadly in the wild the plight of the penguins' alter egos is all too realistic. Adelie penguins are classified as "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as they become victims of climate warming that is reducing Antarctic sea ice and putting their stony nesting grounds at risk from rising tides.

Unsustainable fishing and oil pollution are added burdens for these hardy birds with their dinner jacket plumages and perky stance. It is feared that the Adelie penguin population could decline by 30 per cent over the next three generations.

To add greater poignancy to the Adelie's predicament is their unlikely status as technically "British birds". Adelies nest on UK Overseas Territory along with several other penguin species, making Britain the nation with more of this bird family under its jurisdiction than any other country.
The RSPB is campaigning to create a 500,000 square kilometre reserve around the South Sandwich Islands to help protect Adelies along with chinstrap and gentoo penguins.

In his wonderful new book Penguins: Close Encounters, renowned photographer David Tipling captures the charismatic Adelies in all their glory.
Sadly in the wild the plight of the penguins' alter egos is all too realistic
Whether it's playing the dutiful parent bringing up their offspring in the harshest conditions on the planet to porpoising across millpond seas, David's supreme camerawork illustrates why these endearing and entertaining creatures were perfect leads for a commercial.

Monty and Mabel's debut in the advertisement is providing a worthy windfall for the penguins.
John Lewis is teaming up with the wildlife charity WWF to raise funds to help scientists find out more about the birds.

The WWF's adoption scheme helps pay for time-depth recorders to track the birds when they dive as well as measuring equipment and identification transponders.

All profits from the CD sales of John Lewis's Christmas advert single Real Love by Tom Odell are going to WWF's Adopt a Penguin Programme.

Rod Downie of the WWF UK, said: "Through the support of John Lewis and our amazing penguin adopters, WWF can help protect the icy home of Monty and Mabel.

John Lewis and our amazing penguin adopters, WWF can help protect the icy home of "The funds raised will allow WWF to continue supporting British and French scientists working in the Antarctic to track Ad©lie penguins like Monty and Mabel, identifying where they go at sea to feed. This information is helping us to identify vitally important biological hotspots in the Southern Ocean that need to be protected from the threat of unsustainable fishing."

WWF's penguin adoption packs, which contain a cuddly toy penguin, are available at


Penguin nest figures alarm

Problems have hit the yellow-eyed penguin breeding season for the third year in a row. Breeding pairs of the endangered birds at many sites on the Otago coast and on Codfish Island have nearly halved this year after another late start to egg-laying. Mystery diseases and starvation resulted in illness and death for many penguins in the past two years.

Recent Department of Conservation searches found 232 active nests, including 76 at monitoring sites on Otago Peninsula, down from 111, and only 94 at sites in the Catlins, down from 165.  ''It's disappointing, as we were hoping for a good start to the season, after several challenging ones,'' Doc ranger Mel Young said last week.

Modelling by University of Otago scientists last year showed under the best-case scenario the Otago Peninsula population is in slow decline but under the worst, it is in steep decline. Ms Young said many birds delayed their moult earlier in the year and it was likely some birds did not survive or had not regained enough condition to breed.

An exception to the steep decline was North Otago, where 62 nests had been counted at monitoring sites compared with 70 last season.

At Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust reserves searched last month for nests only about half the number of nests seen the previous year were found on Okia and Otaphai reserves on Otago Peninsula. ''While the Long Point reserve in the Catlins was holding up until this season, nest numbers have plunged to 28 nests down from 48 in 2013-14.''

Doc figures also showed a decline in breeding pairs at Te Rere Scientific Reserve, in the South Catlins, from the 20 to 25 usually found to only seven last month. Trust general manager Sue Murray said more concerning was the long-term trend on Codfish Island (Whenua Hou), west of Stewart Island. On the island the number of breeding pairs had virtually halved from 61 in 2001 to 32 this year. ''On Codfish, no juveniles were seen at all. This is a predator-free island, so no terrestrial threats. We believe the poor numbers must be linked directly to something in the marine environment.''

It highlighted the need for further research in the marine environment to see what changes were affecting the penguins, Mrs Murray said. ''Penguins are indicators of marine conditions, making yellow-eyed penguin a sentinel of change in New Zealand's southern waters.''

They were unsure of the reason for the drop in the Catlins but it might be an effect of the poor foraging last year, poor fledging success and the effect of late moulting on adults. ''Yellow-eyed penguin populations have historically been characterised by extreme population fluctuations and it is hoped the Otago coast birds will bounce back with recruitment and the return of non-breeding adults.''

The next stage of the breeding season was egg-hatching, which had already started at some sites.
Boulder Beach Conservation Area on Otago Peninsula will be closed to the public from December 1 to February 28 during the breeding season.


Penguin of the Day

Baby Humboldt Penguin 

Baby Humboldt Penguin by Ben King

This Week's Pencognito!

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