Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MyDeskFriend is a robot penguin that talks

Arimaz's MyDeskFriend is a robot penguin that talks
(Credit: Arimaz)

We admit we're suckers for cute robots around here, especially ones that are connected to the Internet in some way (remember the Nabaztag?). So I was especially excited to find that Arimaz's MyDeskFriend is not only a robot that can communicate with your Facebook account, it comes in the form of a tiny robot penguin with an adorable little hat.

Meant as a "social-media companion," the MyDeskFriend penguin can be integrated into your Facebook profile. You can then "feed" or "exercise" the penguin via a Facebook gameplay interface to keep it in a happy mood (it has five different moods, each of which is indicated by the color of the penguin's eyes), and you can let your Facebook friends play with it via the gameplay interface as well. You can also set it so it'll alert you when your friends have logged on, read you your Facebook messages, poke your friends, and more.

Aside from the Facebook integration, it's similar to the Nabaztag in that it can also read out information from RSS feeds, e-mail, stock quotes, weather forecast, Twitter posts, instant messages, calendar appointment alerts, and more.

The MyDeskFriend can actually move around as well. It has infrared sensors that keep it from falling off a desk, and it reacts to physical stimuli like petting and shaking (which will also affect its mood)--take a look at the video below to see how that works.

It'll also memorize around 15 voice commands. Interestingly, Arimaz says MyDeskFriend has an autonomous lifecycle software that lets it develop its own "personality" over time, depending on how you treat it. It's a little like a Tamagotchi in that sense.


Image of the Day


Monday, June 29, 2009

TN Aquarium's Macaroni Chick Gets Checked Out

Image of the Day

Curious Clara 2
Originally uploaded by Ay Suza Koek

Sunny. Highs in the upper 80s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph.


Mostly clear. Lows in the lower 60s. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph.


wx by wxbug

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by momskitchen
Matching cookie & cupcake with penguin theme. YUMS!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Image of the Day

Chick Checkup at the TN Aquarium

This Week's Pencognito!

Please visit Jen and all the pengiesHERE

From penning articles to penguin wrangling

Eleanor Lee holds a penguin chicks named Ceres Bucket. Lee and her husband decided to name them after Harry Potter characters. Photos provided by Eleanor Lee.

From penning articles to penguin wrangling
Posted on 26 June 2009

By Eleanor Lee
Northwest Asian Weekly

A year ago, I was working for Northwest Asian Weekly as the editor when a crazy opportunity presented itself: to go work in Argentina at Punta Tombo, home of the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world.

I don’t know what I could write that would sound more random. The way it came about is that my husband, Eric, is a Doctor of Philosophy student in Biology at the University of Washington. Dee Boersma, one of his professors, worked at Punta Tombo for 25 years. Each year, she selects two full-time volunteers to spend the entire breeding season, from September to March, at the colony. The volunteers count, measure, band, observe, and conduct experiments on nearly half a million penguins.

Dee asked Eric if he was interested in spending the season there — and since they needed two people — hey, why not bring along his wife as well? Let me tell you upfront that I have no background in science whatsoever. I’ve never done field work in my life. But I do love the outdoors, as I have backpacked quite a bit, and I’ve done trail work a few times. I figured field work couldn’t be too different.

It turned out to be quite a bit different. We literally worked from dawn to dusk most days, for six months straight, without a single day off. It was all penguins, all the time. And it was phenomenal.

Most of us rarely get the chance to be tough, not yell-at-someone-who-cut-you-off-in-traffic tough. I mean get-injured-and-keep-going-anyway tough, work-outdoors-even-when-it’s-completely-dark tough, walk-around-with-blood-and-poop-on-your clothes tough. It’s invigorating in a way that working in an office — no matter how much you love it — can never be.
Top: An adult Magellanic penguin with its four furry chicks cozying up against one another. Bottom: It wasn’t all penguins all the time. Lee found sparrow chicks in a nest. She learned that if she passed her hand over the nest, the chicks would beg. “It’s a cruel trick, but how else could I get such a cute picture? I was doing science,” Lee says.

Top: An adult Magellanic penguin with its four furry chicks cozying up against one another. Bottom: It wasn’t all penguins all the time. Lee found sparrow chicks in a nest. She learned that if she passed her hand over the nest, the chicks would beg. “It’s a cruel trick, but how else could I get such a cute picture? I was doing science,” Lee says.

Also, most of us rarely get the chance to interact with wildlife, in a wild landscape setting, on their terms. Before I went to their world, I thought penguins were cute little birds that waddled around and looked adorable. But in the Patagonian desert, in the unrelenting heat and wind, I watched them fight. I watched them use the dry carcasses of their dead chicks as nesting material. I learned what their behaviors and signals meant. I learned to observe them for hours on end, and I never got tired of it.

When penguins are weighed, they usually aren’t as good-natured as this one.

Now that I’m back in Seattle, I notice the world around me a lot more. I would not have called myself an animal lover before, at least not any more than the average person. Eric loves to watch birds, and I used to make fun of him for it.

But after spending so much time around animals, my appreciation for wildlife has really developed. I find myself stopping to observe a robin or a little mouse, something I never would have done before. I notice small motions, behaviors, and markings that I never would have even known to look for before. What formerly served as just a backdrop to my day is now immediate and animated.

The Punta Tombo landscape where Lee worked for six months

I’m still working for the Penguin Project. I spend my days entering all the data that we collected in the field — this is the less glamorous side of field work. It’s monotonous, and I miss working outside.

I also miss the creativity of working at Northwest Asian Weekly. Despite the difficulties and downsides of journalism, it’s certainly not boring or repetitive.

As I punch in number after number and check things off with a little red pen, I’m glad that I had the experience of working in the field, and I’m happy that I’m more aware of the natural world. I also look forward to eventually returning to the writing world, that is if Eric doesn’t get an offer to study elephants. ♦

Eleanor Lee can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

a Macaroni Penguin is Keeping its Parents Busy

Born at the Tennessee Aquarium, a Macaroni Penguin is Keeping its Parents Busy
Fri, 6/26/2009 - 4:13 PM

By Thom Benson

Chattanooga, TN - One week after being born at the Tennessee Aquarium, an adorable macaroni penguin is keeping its parents quite busy. “We’ve recorded them feeding the baby 18 to 20 times from 7 am to 5 pm each day,” said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “And I’m sure they are feeding throughout the night as well.”

The penguin feeding ritual is interesting to watch and sometimes comical. Frantic peeping begins from underneath the parent that is currently keeping the chick warm. In response to this vocalization, the parent raises up and off of the baby. At this point two things occur. First, the penguin baby begins rubbing its beak vigorously alongside the parent’s beak. This physical interaction then stimulates the parent to open it’s beak for the baby to enjoy some penguin haute cuisine. “The chick sticks that little head way up into the parent’s mouth, almost to the back of their throat, and comes out with a nice, big mouthful of regurgitated fish,” Graves explained. “That sounds disgusting to us, but to a little penguin it’s absolutely wonderful.”

Apparently it’s also packed with all of the nutrients the baby requires, because Aquarium visitors are noting a rapid increase in size. What began as a tiny, slate-gray ball of fuzzy down one week ago is now growing by leaps and bounds. “Any baby bird grows fast and penguin chicks are no exception,” Graves said. “This little baby has almost tripled in size in its first seven days.”

Dr. Chris Keller, the Aquarium’s veterinarian weighed and examined the macaroni chick for the first time this morning. “This baby weighs 484 grams, which is a little more than one pound,” Dr. Keller said. That’s a slightly heavier than the bell-curve for one-week-old macaroni penguins which is just fine.”

Even though this rather portly little bird appears to be doing fine now, Dr. Keller cautions that there are potential challenges ahead. “When the chick is about two to three weeks old, it will become more mobile and start moving around,” Dr. Keller said. “Once it starts scampering around, it has some potential to get into trouble. One concern is the fact that the baby is covered in down and does not have its waterproof plumage yet.

For now the baby’s legs aren’t strong enough for it to venture from the nest.

While this baby macaroni seems to get bigger every time Graves turns around, she and other penguin keepers are still eyeing several gentoo pairs with eggs. It is still not known whether the four gentoo eggs are fertile or not. If they are, visitors may be able to observe similar feeding behavior with the other species of cold-climate penguins at the Tennessee Aquarium sometime in mid-July.

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $21.95 per adult and $14.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $27.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $29.00 per adult and $21.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities.

To view Tennessee Aquarium's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to: http://www.zandavisitor.com/forumtopicdetail-364-Tennessee_Aquarium


Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Videos

Image of the Day

march18 178
Originally uploaded by offpainting
Yellow eyed penguin on the mend.

Battle To Save Penguins Facing Extinction

Female penguin on Dyer island guards a recently-laid egg

Dyer Island from the air

Penguin chick.

Battle To Save Penguins Facing Extinction

1:10pm UK, Friday June 26, 2009

Emma Hurd, Africa correspondent
Conservationists are warning that a rare species of penguin could face extinction unless urgent action is taken to protect it.

African penguins which nest around the southern coastline of the continent are under threat from commercial fishing and oil spills.

In the past century the population of the birds has declined by 90%, leaving just 26,000 breeding pairs left in the wild.

If the current rate of decline continues the African penguin, also known as the jackass penguin because of its donkey-like bray, could be extinct by 2024.

In South Africa, researchers are closely monitoring every penguin colony to gather data to present to the government as part of a campaign for fishing exclusion zones.

On the remote Dyer Island, off the coast of Cape Town, Lauren Waller and her colleague Deon Geldenhuys spend each day measuring and weighing the penguin chicks.

Every day we get penguins in here who are close to death because they have been covered in oil.

Venessa Strauss, South African Sea Bird Conservation Centre

Their condition reckoned to be a good indicator of the availability of fish around the island because they are totally dependent on their parents' ability to find food.

"We're finding more underweight chicks, and more chicks that have been abandoned," Lauren said.

Dyer Island - uninhabited by humans - is a protected site for sea birds. But the protection does not extend out to sea.

Fishing of sardines and other pelagic fish in the area is unrestricted which means that the penguins have to compete with the trawlers for food.

The researchers have attached small GPS devices to some of the adult birds to see how far they are travelling.

Dyer island home to African penguins

"We've found that the Dyer Island birds are swimming 40 kilometres to fish, and that is at the very limit of the distance they can travel when they have chicks," Lauren said.

Penguins mate for life and the breeding pairs take it in turns to find food while the other stays with the chicks.

The distances involved mean the adult penguins are increasingly vulnerable to seal attacks and oil spills out at sea, while their young go hungry back in the nest.

At the Southern African Foundation For The Conservation Of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in Cape Town hundreds of injured and oiled penguins are rescued every year.

"Most of the time the oil spills aren't even reported, but every day we get penguins in here who are close to death because they have been covered in oil," said Venessa Strauss, the centre's CEO.

Saving the birds is labour-intensive. It takes four people to clean each bird, and they then have to be fed twice a day - by hand.

The penguins are eventually returned to the wild in the hope that they will help boost the falling numbers.

Climate change is exacerbating the problem, shifting the location of the fish and also making the penguins vulnerable to over-heating on the land.

Around the Western Cape researchers are experimenting with artificial nests made of fibre glass to try to keep the chicks out of the sun.

On Dyer Island the penguins have been quick to move into the burrow shaped structures, each pair closely guarding their new homes.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Image of the Day

Emperor Penguins on the Eckstroem Ice-shelf
70˚36' S 8˚08'W

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Image of the Day

Submitter nancylpt shot this photo of Adelie penguins while kayaking in Marguerite Bay, Antarctica.

Adelie penguins are the species featured in the children's book "Mr. Popper's Penguins." They were named for the wife of Jules Dumont d'Urville, the French explorer who made his name studying Antarctica, along with Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, in the 19th century.

-- Lindsay Barnett


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Image of the Day


First African Penguin Spotted Back In Namibia

First African Penguin Spotted Back In Namibia
By whitesharkecoventures

It was a pink spot day on Mercury Island when a Namibian conservationist spotted the first African penguin back home after a recent 4-week stint of rehabilitated at SANCCOB.

On the 8th June, just 18 days after their release from Derdesteen Beach in Cape Town the first of a group of 129 penguins, which have been successfully rehabilitated at SANCCOB, was seen back at its original breeding colony of Mercury Island.

After his release from Derdesteen Beach, he was spotted on Robben Island on 25 May (4 days after being released from Derdesteen Beach). With this confirmed sighting on 25 May, this would mean that his actual swimming time was a fantastic 14 days!

At a total distance of 1019km, he averaged 72.7km per day!

So, if you play the lotto, you may want to remember the lucky numbers A10885 because that’s the tenacious little tike that won the race to get back home.

As with all collectives of animals one immediately stood out as the feistiest and was immediately dubbed ‘Black Angus’ as it fought its way through rehab, pecking the handlers randomly and generally taking charge.
Weighing in at 2,8kg on admittance, which is a respectable weight for a penguin and put him ahead in the weight-class of his fellow refugees, he pretty much doubled his weight as he ate his way through prime Sardine a la SANCCOB, to finally weigh in at 4.1kg on his release.

Of course it was he who strode out ahead of the group at the beach release, and first to take to the waters. And follows that he had to be the one to win the long swim home, to strike familiar soil shore and to announce triumphantly to his fellow Mercurians “Black Angus is back!’.

SANCCOB thanks all readers, listeners and volunteers who have followed the story of the 129 African penguins oiled off the coast of Luderitz as well as helped us with “Getting our birds back on their feet.”

Should you wish to donate to SANCCOB or to Adopt one of these penguins, please contact SANCCOB at +27 21 557 6155 or visit the adopt a penguin area of the SANCCOB website.


penguin baby alive and peeping

Heard but not seen, penguin baby alive and peeping

Associated Press
Originally published 08:34 a.m., June 22, 2009

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Tennessee Aquarium has its first penguin chick.

Macaroni penguins Chaos and Paulie are the proud parents. Although the unnamed baby has come out of its shell, the parents will continue to sit on it for 14 days.

For that reason little is known about the baby bird. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports even the penguins’ closest caretaker, Amy Graves, didn’t get a good look at it until Saturday. But she has heard a very soft peeping since it was hatched on Thursday.

Aquarium officials say they will post pictures and videos online. Once the bird is more independent, visitors will be able to see it live at the aquarium.

There are three other unhatched eggs laid by two sets of penguin parents in the exhibit. If those eggs are fertile, they should all have hatched by mid-July.


Zoo adjusts hours to beat heat

Zoo adjusts hours to beat heat

The Clarion-Ledger • June 22, 2009

The Jackson (Mississippi) Zoo will shift its visiting hours to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily starting Thursday, to take advantage of cooler morning temperatures during a hot summer.

The last admission ticket will be sold at 3:30 p.m. each day. The new summer hours will remain in effect until further notice.

“We decided to open an hour earlier to accommodate those who may want to come and enjoy the zoo in the cooler morning weather,” zoo director Beth Poff said in a release.

Penguin Plunge, a self-contained, temporary zoo exhibit housing six black-footed penguins, continues through the summer. Visitors can see penguin feedings at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Penguin Plunge is installed in the Discovery Zoo.


Beauty and the birds

Feathered friends ... (above) white-flippered penguins at Pohatu, or Flea Bay; (below) a view of the bay on Banks Peninsula.

Beauty and the birds
John Maddocks
June 21, 2009

On the spectacular Banks Peninsula, John Maddocks finds a paradise for rare penguins.

The penguin is confused. It looks around for a few moments and then, instead of heading for the water and freedom, it scurries up the beach. This isn't meant to happen. After months of intensive care for a shark bite, the white-flippered penguin has just been released onto the beach at Pohatu, on the Banks Peninsula.

Its rescuer, Shireen, bends down and turns it towards the bay. The penguin realises its mistake and sets off for the water.

This little bird is a survivor and the deep gash the marauding shark made on its neck has healed beneath some fluffy new feathers. After an ungainly waddle across 50 metres of sand, the penguin wades into the water and instantly morphs into a sleek, fast-moving swimmer.

Shireen watches its progress and sighs. She is a hardened and dedicated conservationist who has cared for many penguins over the years. Despite this, returning a penguin to the wild is an emotional moment for her.

"This little chap will swim out to sea and join the group that left Pohatu a couple of months ago," Shireen tells me wistfully. "That group will eventually return here to breed and maybe he'll be among them."

Pohatu, or Flea Bay as it is also known, is undoubtedly a paradise for the hundreds of rare, endangered penguins that nest here every year. Conditions are so favourable that Pohatu has the largest mainland population of white-flippered penguins, which were named for the distinctive white markings on both edges of their flippers.

Shireen owns the farm adjoining the bay and has been instrumental in having Pohatu turned into a marine reserve where penguins are no longer caught in fishing nets. Nevertheless, every year some are injured in a variety of ways, so Shireen keeps them in hutches, tends to their breaks and cuts and feeds them anchovies. Most survive and are eventually released.

Not long after the freed penguin swims out into the bay, we take to the water in sea kayaks. Shireen guides us skilfully past the many penguin runs at the base of the bay's steep cliffs. White-flippered penguins nest in rock crevices, caves and burrows and their runs feature round nests lined with grass or twigs. Sea kayaking is the best way to see the birds in their natural environment without disturbing them.

But penguins are only part of the wildlife here. Dozens of fur seals are lying on the rocks and, as we paddle past a large group, one joins us in the water. It dives around the kayaks, obviously pleased to see us. The bay is also home to Hector's dolphins, which are the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. They are only 1.4 metres long and have distinctive white, black and grey markings.

Getting up close to wildlife at Pohatu is a feature of the 35-kilometre Banks Peninsula Track. The Banks Peninsula, just 80 kilometres from Christchurch, was formed when two volcanoes blew up more than 8 million years ago. The resulting steep summits and rugged peaks give the area a dramatic beauty. Little wonder this track is one of New Zealand's most popular walks.

The walk starts and ends in the gorgeous harbourside town of Akaroa. From here you can take either two or four days to complete the track, depending on your fitness and energy levels. You start with a steep climb to the top of the volcanic crater rim and then descend through forest to the coast. Highlights include magnificent stands of beech trees and delightful waterfalls but nothing surpasses the spectacular cliff and ocean views.

The four-day walk gives you more time to enjoy the cliff-top scenery and explore secluded bays and beaches, including Pohatu, where you spend the second night.

With the sort of Kiwi understatement that calls a mountain a "hill", the accommodation on the walk is described as huts. All the huts have comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchens, heating, hot showers and flush toilets. Some even feature stained-glass windows. You can have your pack carried between huts and there are two "trampers' shops" for essential supplies along the way.

The Banks Peninsula Track has a nice balance of interesting hiking, scenic beauty, soft adventure and cosy, quirky accommodation. And you won't get close to the loveable white-flippered penguins anywhere else.

The writer was a guest of Tourism New Zealand.


GETTING THERE Air New Zealand has 11 direct flights a week from Sydney to Christchurch. See airnewzealand.com.au for details. The Akaroa Shuttle bus has a daily return service from Christchurch to Akaroa for $32. See akaroashuttle.co.nz.

WALKING THERE The Banks Peninsula Track costs $158-$178 a person for the four-day walk, depending on the season. The two-day walk will set you back between $107 and $119. See bankstrack.co.nz/index.html. You can do the Pohatu Penguin tour as part of the walk or separately. See pohatu.co.nz for more details.

STAYING THERE In Akaroa, consider La Rochelle Motel (larochellemotel.co.nz) Akaroa Cottages (akaroacottages.co.nz), or, for something artistic, Linton of Akaroa "The Giant's House", with its amazing sculpture-filled garden (linton.co.nz).

Source: The Sun-Herald @

Monday, June 22, 2009

Image of the Day

Penguins in the Garden.
Originally uploaded by -= Funk =-
A group of penguins decided to go on a walk through their pond garden, before being fed their fishy lunch.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by Dimilinchen
Happy Father's Day to all our penguin fathers!

Police metal detectors aid penguin health check

Police metal detectors aid penguin health check

* Publication Date:06/17/2009
* Source: Liberty Times

The National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium used X-ray technology to perform the annual penguin health check in 2008. But in 2009, the Hengchun police force is stepping up with a metal detector to determine whether the penguins have swallowed any metal objects. On June 15, the police came to the museum and, with the assistance of museum staff, did the first ever “body search” on penguins. The penguins acted like they were taking drugs at an Ecstasy party when each was seized and tested.

Chieh Hsian-chiang, a veterinarian the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology emphasized that metal detectors have been used in clinical practice to determine whether cows have swallowed metal objects. However, in the case of more delicate animals like penguins, says Chieh, it is better to use X-rays to achieve better accuracy.

Vets around the Kaohsiung area say that the sensitivity of the police metal detectors may make it difficult to detect objects in deep areas of the birds' bodies. However, X-rays allow visualization of the metal and also allows the vet to see whether the birds have consumed any plastic or other foreign bodies that would not be visible with a metal detector.

Museum staff were privately critical as well, saying that the institution has been doing poorly over the last few years, and its operator, the Hi-Sence World Enterprise Co., has “simply gone a bit too far” in trying to save money in this case. Company general manager He Shao-kuang and Chang Chin-hua, who is in charge of the aquarium's penguins, say that after penguins are shipped to Taiwan by air, they are inside the museum grounds for a long period of time, and they probably will not have swallowed any foreign objects. In 2008, even with the use of professional X-ray equipment, no foreign objects were found. Since the penguins must be anesthetized prior to being X-rayed, the process is a bit costly, so the Hi-Sense World decided to try to borrow a metal detector from the local police instead to do the check up in 2009. The deputy of the Hengchun Police District Huang Jung-shan, says that he helped the company get permission from the Pingtung County Poilice Bureau. Because the company would use the device for an hour or two without affecting regular police work, permission was granted.

Sixty-one penguins had been examined by June 16, and no metal objects were found in any of them. At the same time, blood samples were drawn, birds were weighed, and other examinations were performed.


Cleaned-up penguins back on island

Cleaned-up penguins back on island
Staff Writer
June 16 2009 at 08:59AM

The first batch of Namibian penguins released in Cape Town in May after they had to be cleaned up due to an oil spill have returned to Mercury Island off the coast of Namibia, where they appear to be doing well.

The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) said on Monday that the first penguin, nicknamed Black Angus by Sanccob staff, took 18 days to swim the 1 019km home, arriving on the island on June 8.

They said the penguin had stood out "as the feistiest" of the 129 penguins that were rehabilitiated at Sanccob's Table View centre.

Sanccob transported the penguins, which became oiled by a slick from an unknown source in April, by truck to Cape Town at the request of the Namibian authorities, who did not have the staff or facilities to handle so many oiled birds.

Sanccob agreed to help because the numbers of African penguins have dropped enormously in the past few decades and the species is regarded as threatened.

After being cleaned and fattened for four weeks, the birds were released near Bloubergstrand to swim back to Mercury Island.


Zoo’s little blues are a singing a happier song now

FIGHTING FIT: Auckland Zoo’s new little blue penguin, front, with new flatmate Coral.
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Zoo’s little blues are a singing a happier song now

Auckland Zoo’s newest resident has taken a while to get his bearings, but it’s not because of a lack of hospitality.

The little blue penguin, who is yet to be named, was brought in with only one flipper after being rescued from West Harbour Marina by a member of the public.

It’s been a long and careful recovery for the small bird, who was very badly injured, says New Zealand natives zookeeper Dave Robbins.

The penguin had lost his flipper entirely and there was bone showing through a large gash, probably after being hit by a boat.

Zoo staff immediately went to work treating the penguin with the help of vet Berend West.

Mr Robbins says it had possibly been injured for up to two weeks when it was found and for a while the penguin’s survival was in doubt.

"He’s actually quite lucky to be alive I think. It was definitely touch and go when he first got here.

"So we were really excited but at the same time we weren’t sure. It could have gone the other way as well."

The youngster is now thriving in his new home and isn’t letting his missing flipper slow him down.

Mr Robbins says none of the staff were sure how well he would swim again but within a few minutes of getting into the pool, he was swimming perfectly straight.

He’s also put on much-needed weight, and is now 879 grams, compared with just 648g when he was found.

His arrival at the zoo has also been good news for his new flatmate Coral, the zoo’s only other little blue penguin. She had been living alone after five companions died in unrelated incidents over the last year.

Until recently, it was thought she might be sent to another zoo while the penguin aviary was redeveloped.

But Mr Robbins says now the two can stay together in the temporary enclosure until later in the year.

Although they have quite different personalities and took a while to get used to each other, keepers came in the other day to find they had moved in together and are now sleeping in the same box.

There is a possibility they will mate and there will be eggs next breeding season.

"It’s a fantastic result for us as well," he says.

After the new aviary is finished the zoo will be looking to expand the penguin colony again and Mr Robbins says they will probably bring in birds from rescue centres.

He says more and more rescue centres are being set up around the country and anyone who finds an injured bird should take it to the nearest one.


Antarctic success

Antarctic success
5 June 2009

The South African government has announced it will create a vast protected area around the remote Prince Edward Islands in the Southern Ocean – and WWF is taking a lead in providing technical and management advice.

At 180,000km2, the Prince Edward Islands region will become one of the biggest Marine Protected Areas in the world. It’s an environmental achievement of global importance, which will help protect a suite of spectacular wildlife.

WWF’s director general, Jim Leape, says: "South Africa has made a globally significant commitment to our oceans.

"South Africa plays a key role – along with countries such as Australia, France, UK and New Zealand – in protecting the amazing biodiversity and commercially important fisheries of the sub-Antarctic."

Located almost 2000km south of Cape Town, in the Southern Ocean, the islands are home to:

• 450,000 King penguins (and two other penguin species)
• 33% of the world’s sub-Antarctic Fur Seals (and two other types of seal)
• 44% of all Wandering Albatrosses (and four more kinds of albatross)
• 14 species of petrel

The islands have been threatened by illegal and irresponsible fishing practices in the past – for instance vessels targeting Patagonian toothfish have often killed albatross as bycatch.


There's a new macaroni in Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover Paulie incubates his newly-born baby while his parther, Chaos, stands nearby at the Tennessee Aquarium Thursday. Chaos and Paulie's chick is the first penguin born at the aquarium.

Friday, June 19, 2009
There's a new macaroni in Chattanooga

By: Adam Crisp

Courtney Szpur has something in common with the latest addition to the Tennessee Aquarium's Penguins' Rock exhibit.

Thursday was her 15th birthday, and the aquarium's newest resident hatched just hours before she and her family arrived to celebrate her big day.

"We come one or two times a month," said Courtney, of Georgetown, Tenn., noting the penguins were her favorite exhibit. "I can't wait to see it grow up and get bigger."

Macaroni penguins Chaos and Paulie are the proud parents of the new chick. The bird is believed to have started hatching from its egg Thursday morning and was completely emerged by the afternoon. The process occurred under the careful guard of its parents.

This is the first time a penguin has been born at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

Little is know about the baby bird. So far, even the penguins' closest caretaker, Amy Graves, has yet to see the penguin up close. Thursday began a 14-day period where the parents will continue to sit atop the baby until it can maintain its own body weight.

Ms. Graves has not seen the bird, but she's heard it, she said.

"I heard a very soft, yet strong, 'peep, peep, peep,'" she said. "This was good news to my ears because when you hear the chick vocalizing, then you know that the chick is alive."

There will be few opportunities for visitors to see the baby bird over the next two weeks. Aquarium officials say they will post pictures and videos online, but once the bird is more independent visitors will get ample opportunity to see the penguin.

"There are few things cuter than a penguin, except maybe a baby penguin," said Thom Benson, the aquarium's spokesman.

There may be a naming contest. When the birds arrived in 2007, about 8,000 people logged onto the aquarium's Web site to help select names, Ms. Graves said. The exhibit now has 20 residents.

There are still three other unhatched eggs born to two sets of parents in the exhibit. Biscuit and Blue and Bug and Big T are all nesting atop eggs. If their eggs are fertile, all the new arrivals should be in place by mid-July, Ms. Graves estimates.

But penguin officials are cautious about their chances of having four live births in Penguins' Rock. Though Paulie and Chaos were the least-likely parents because of their age and inexperience as parents, Ms. Graves said other birds may be caring for unfertilized eggs.

And even when the chicks hatch, there are still a number of challenges ahead including the baby's overall health and its curiosity down the road.

"It is still too early to tell how strong this chick is. And later on we wouldn't want that youngster wandering out of the nest too soon," said Dave Collins, the aquarium's curator of forests. "So we will remain vigilant and hope the parents remain as dutiful as they have been so far."

The birds' caretakers will only intervene if the chick falls ill or faces dangers from other birds. Otherwise, the bird will be raised right in front of aquarium guests.


There is a scant possibility of seeing the new baby penguin during the next two-week period, but other birds also are nesting. Tickets are $21.95 for adults and $14.95 for children ages 3 to 12. The first admittance to the Aquarium is at 10 a.m. each day, with last admittance at 6 p.m.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Videos!

Image of the Day

(Eudyptula albosignata albosignata)

Baggu Penguin

Baggu Penguin

Baggu bags, one of my favorite reusable bag companies, has branched out into plush and created a Penguin. This has got to be the cutest little dude I’ve ever seen, and modern at that.



Happy Feet for New Penguin Parents at Tennessee Aquarium

Happy Feet for New Penguin Parents at Tennessee Aquarium

June 18, 2009 - 5:08 PM

Chattanooga, TN - Tennessee Aquarium penguin keeper Amy Graves had a bit of a surprise today. Right after delivering the first penguin program of the day, she saw something exciting. "I went over to give Paulie a fish and when he stood up ever so slightly, I saw a piece of chipped shell in the nest," Graves said. "When he stood up more, there was a quarter-sized hole in the shell and a tiny beak sticking out."

The "pipping" process begins when the chick breaks through an air cell inside the shell. "The chick is still fully within the egg, but that's when it gets its first breath of air," explains Dave Collins, the Aquarium's curator of forests. "That starts its lungs working and the blood circulating and it becomes an air-breathing bird for the first time in its life."

Then the chick starts to break through the shell along the edge of the air cell. This is often a barely noticeable crack. Once the beak breaks through the shell, the chick gets a really good breath of outside air. "Then the chick turns in the egg and begins "unzipping" the egg. This involves pecking along the edge of the air cell and popping the end of the egg off," Collins said.

Graves has yet to get a good look at the newborn macaroni penguin, but she has heard it. "I heard a very soft, yet strong, 'peep, peep, peep'. This was good news to my ears because when you hear the chick vocalizing, then you know that the chick is alive," Graves said. "You don't always see the baby penguin in the beginning, so hearing it vocalize is important."

The baby penguin will likely stay sheltered from view underneath the parents for up to three days. "It is going to require full brooding which means the parents are going to have to stay on the baby and not let any cold air get onto it," Collins said.

Penguin keepers plan to let Paulie and Chaos raise the chick on their own as long as they continue to be diligent parents. "If they are feeding the baby, it stays well-hydrated and no other birds start picking on it, we'll leave it on exhibit with the parents," Graves said.

Aquarium staffers have prepared a backup plan in case those conditions are not met. They are prepared to mix and feed the baby "penguin milkshakes," a nutritionally balanced baby penguin formula. They also have a brooder on standby. "This is a comfortable shelter that will keep the baby warm as if it were under the parents," Graves said.

Now that the chick has hatched, there are still a number of challenges ahead including the baby's overall health and chick's curiosity down the road. "It is still too early to tell how strong this chick is. And later
on we wouldn't want that youngster wandering out of the nest too soon," said Collins. "So we will remain vigilant and hope the parents remain as dutiful as they have been so far."


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Image of the Day

Among Giants
Originally uploaded by Anne Froehlich
Adelie Penguin passing by the Emperor Penguin colony.
Eckstroem Ice-shelf, 70˚36' S 8˚08'W

Celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins with some Pittsburgh penguins

Penguins Saluting Penguins illustration by MYRLA

Celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins with some Pittsburgh penguins
June 17, 1:22 PM
Story by Mark Yarris

I know I am not the only one who has made the connection… we have our Stanley Cup Pittsburgh Penguins, but we also have their polar cap counterparts, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium penguins. Both are flightless wonders, both are excellent on ice, and both are Pittsburgh favorites. The only thing I don’t think our champion Pittsburgh Penguins would be apt to go jump in ice cold water to chase after some fish! But you know what? Both complement each other and both make Pittsburghers proud!

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s little black and white penguins act as an unofficial mascot for our black and gold ones. And our ice skating, two legged igloo dwelling Penguins are a visible advertisement for our small sure footed featherless bird friends. Those little guys at the zoo were even rooting for their bigger namesakes during the playoffs! I noticed that they had acquired a Pittsburgh Penguin banner and hung it in their habitat, proudly displaying their love for their favorite hockey team! I am curious as to how they were able to obtain that banner and how they kept up with the Stanley Cup playoff action.

But the penguins at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium are fascinating creatures to watch, whether they are swimming around or just intermingling among themselves. They are probably the star attraction right now in Pittsburgh, next to their human counterparts. I’m sure the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Stanley Cup gave a boost to attendance at the zoo and aquarium.

I have been to numerous zoos over the years and visited the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, D.C. a couple of weeks ago, but I still think the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium is one of the best, if not the best. I might be bias and it might be because some very good landscape architects helped design some of the animal exhibits, but the settings, the presentations, the animal care, it’s some of the best I have seen outside of Disney or Bush Gardens. (And by the way, I am bias toward Pittsburgh and I am a landscape architect.)

I must confess, I have not made a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium for a couple of years now and think it’s about time to take my three year old grandson and rediscover what this great place has to offer the young and old alike. I need to go even if it’s just to celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins with some real Pittsburgh penguins!

Join me. Get out and about this summer and visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Do it for the penguins!


Syracuse zoo's precocious penguins have fun with window cleaner

Aislenn Mehl, 15 months old, of Camillus, watches animal curator Ted Fox clean the glass inside the Humboldt Penquin exhibit at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, in Syracuse, while Cuzco the penguin takes a closer look.

Syracuse zoo's precocious penguins have fun with window cleaner

by John Mariani / The Post-Standard
Wednesday June 17, 2009, 8:50 PM
Mike Greenlar / The Post Standard

Suspend a window washer on a scaffold 15 stories over South Salina Street and people hardly notice.

Dress the window washer in a scuba suit and send him into the pool of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo's Penguin Coast exhibit, on the other hand, and he'll draw a crowd -- both human and penguin.

That's what happened Wednesday, anyway, as Curator of Animals Ted Fox undertook the periodic chore of slipping into the penguin pool to scrub green algae from the exhibit's Plexiglas windows, the ones that let visitors watch the zoo's collection of Humboldt penguins play.

About 9:50 a.m., Fox pulled on a bright blue air tank, part of the gear that National Aquatic Service lends to the zoo for the undersurface cleanup, and gingerly lowered himself into the 60 degree water.

For a while, six or so nonplussed penguins swam a safe distance from where air bubbles streamed up from Fox's regulator. Soon, though, curiosity apparently overcame any shyness, and the penguins ventured closer.

Admission attendants, meanwhile, alerted early bird visitors that something special was going on at Penguin Coast, and kids and parents flocked to the exhibit.

"Cool! A sea diver!" a boy in an "I'd play deep if I were you" T-shirt crowed as he and some companions sped to the window where Fox was wiping off gunk with a specially made white abrasive sponge.

Playing deep apparently was on Cuzco's mind. The male Humboldt, who will celebrate his second hatch-day in August, swooped in on Fox, nipping at the back of his ankle, one of the few places on his body not covered by neoprene. Fox tapped Cuzco's beak with his finger and let Cuzco nip it, then went back to work.

"I'd be freaking out if I was him," said Eileen Vesosky, who watched with three of her children as Cuzco zeroed in on Fox from behind. "He doesn't even flinch."

Anything more than a playful nip can be painful, Fox said later.

"It's a combination of a pair of needle nose pliers and two box cutter blades," Fox said. "The tip of their beak has a really sharp point. The lower part has two additional points going upwards that fit together, and the sides of their upper beak is just like razors.

"They grab you and twist. You're going to bleed," he said. "All of the people who work with the penguins here have scars."

The algae isn't harmful -- it's allowed to build up on the artificial rocks that comprise the pool's bottom to give them a natural look. But it settles in scratches etched into the Plexiglas by passing penguins' beaks and, if left unattended, will cloud the view. Keepers can clean the windows using squeegees, but a more direct approach is needed to do deep cleaning.

So Fox, who dives for fun anyway, takes on the task, sharing it with another diver on staff, Collection Manager Nancy Porter.

It's not in his job description, but penguin window washing is a pleasant part of his duties, Fox said.

It's a great opportunity for kids to see zoo staff interact with the penguins underwater, he said. He's hoping some day to get an underwater sound setup that will let him converse with visitors as he cleans.

And it's a chance to interact with the penguins. The birds have learned that humans' reflexes are slower under water and take advantage of it, snatching his sponge to play ball and nipping his ears and pulling his hair.

"It's great enrichment for the penguins," he said. "They like to play with us.
It's a boy!

The Humboldt penguin that hatched at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo on April 21 has been identified as a boy and has been named Pedro, zoo official announced this week. He is still being nurtured by his parents and is expected to be put on display in the Penguin Coast pool sometime this summer, zoo spokeswoman Lorrell Walter said.

Admission attendants, meanwhile, alerted early bird visitors that something special was going on at Penguin Coast, and kids and parents flocked to the exhibit.

Source: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/syracuse_zoos_precocious_pengu.html

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Image of the Day

Chinstrap Penguin
Originally uploaded by Geophaps
Chinstrap Penguin, Deception Island, Antarctica

P-p-p-pick up a penguin for Father's Day at Dudley Zoo

Keeper Kellie Piper with rare Humboldt's penguin, Bob

P-p-p-pick up a penguin for Father's Day at Dudley Zoo

10:40am Tuesday 16th June 2009

IF you are still searching for the perfect present to give your dad on Sunday, animal lovers are invited to p-p-p-pick up a penguin at Dudley Zoo.

Under a special adoption scheme being run at the zoo, people can adopt Bob the penguin as a present for their dads on Father's Day.

The 11-year-old Humboldt's penguin was chosen for the scheme as he is a model parent who has fathered numerous chicks as part of the zoo's breeding programme for the endangered species.

For a £35 fee, adopters receive a special Father's Day card, a photo of Bob, a personalised certificate of adoption, a fact sheet about the species, the quarterly ZooNooz magazine and two complimentary zoo tickets.

The adoption scheme helps pay for feeding and housing Bob, as well as assisting with the zoo's on-going penguin conservation programme.

Zoo Curator Matt Lewis said: "We chose Bob because he is a good role model for fathers.

"He has fathered seven youngsters and he has been sitting on some eggs this spring, so he will have some more chicks hatching soon.

"Bob was bred here and is part of our group of 70 Humboldt's penguins.

"We have got one of the best breeding programmes in the country for Humboldt's penguins. There are usually about a dozen chicks bred here each year."


Ahay from wiinterrr!
This idea is good with any zoo! Why not adopt a pen for YOUR dad?

Baby Penguin Named

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby penguin named
Updated: 06/16/2009 04:06 PM
By: Web Staff

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's a boy! The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has confirmed the sex of their newest little penguin and they've given him a name: Pedro.

The names of the chicks are always inspired by their native habitat.

Pedro is the 13th chick to hatch at the zoo since the Humboldt Penguin exhibit opened four years ago.

Baby penguin named
It's a boy! The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has confirmed the sex of their newest little penguin and they've given him a name: Pedro.

Humboldt penguins are endangered with only 12,000 to 30,000 remaining in the wild.


Wireless Penguin Mouse

Penguins are hot this year. (You catch that little pun? You like what I did with the wordplay? Penguin/Hot. I’ve been working all day on that one.) Here’s a novelty wireless mouse in the shape of a penguin. Yes they’re wearing scarves. And in very strange unrealistic penguin colors. Damn right, I demand realism in my novelty gadgets!!! How come some animals can be made to look cute when gadgetized into different colors but other animals just look ridiculous. Like a green polar bear? That would just look stupid. But a pink penguin? Cute! Looking to see this mouse in use by a nicely manicured female hand model? You got it!