Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Videos!

Image of the Day

Wet King Penguin
Originally uploaded by Stewart 50
Taken at a very wet Edinburgh Zoo

Calgary Zoo to build $24.5-million penguin exhibit

A gentoo penguin eats a fish snack in its enclosure at the Melbourne Aquarium in Melbourne, Australia, May 25. Melbourne Aquarium began its breeding program with the arrival of 16 new king and gentoo penguins, obtained through aquarium-bred stocks from Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. Photograph by: Mick Tsikas, Reuters

Calgary Zoo to build $24.5-million penguin exhibit by next spring

By Kim Guttormson Calgary Herald, Calgary HeraldJuly 30, 2009

The Calgary Zoo plans to start building a $24.5-million penguin exhibit — featuring about 80 birds from four species — by next spring after the project spent months in limbo.

It’s the only piece of the ambitious Arctic Shores proposal that will be built in the near future.

Antarctic Landing will give visitors a chance to see King, rockhopper, Gentoo and Humboldt penguins at play, including a viewing area in the middle of a chilly indoor pool that allows the birds to be seen both above and underwater.

There will also be a separate outdoor pool.

“It will be one of the most eagerly anticipated openings in quite some time,” Don Peterkin, the zoo’s director of facilities, said of the display they hope to open in 2011. “It’s one of those exhibits that absolutely captures people’s imaginations.”

The Calgary Zoo will join Montreal’s Biodome and the West Edmonton Mall with a penguin exhibit.

Gillian Gibbs-Gray, at the zoo with five-year-old Emily and three-year-old son Jamie, said the birds would be a draw.

“Absolutely, my kids would love it,” she said. “We love the opportunity to see animals we wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.

“I know the zoo’s had some tough times, I hope they think it through and it’s something that will be sustainable.”

This fall the zoo will ask the city to free up $14.5 million already committed to the project and will take plans to its board of directors for approval.

The city typically releases its share of funding when a group has hit the 90 per cent fundraising mark.

The zoo also has $3.6 million remaining from a grant previously given by the province and $3 million generated in interest on the overall grant. It is also launching a $3.4-million fundraising campaign for private donations.

The 18,000-square-foot Antarctic Landing — plus a 6,000-square-foot gift shop — is a small piece of what was originally envisioned as Arctic Shores. When a development permit was filed on that project in 2006, it was expected to be a 294,554-square-foot facility with a price tag of more than $120 million and an opening date of next year. Polar bears, beluga whales, penguins, seals and arctic foxes were all on the list of animals being considered.

But soaring construction prices saw the zoo start to scale it back the following year, removing belugas from the wish list to rein in costs. Polar bears, otters and penguins were still hoped for, but donations also weren’t pouring in.

“It became cost prohibitive,” said Grahame Newton, the zoo’s chief financial officer.

Now, spending less than a fifth of the original estimate, penguins will be the sole featured attraction.

An outdoor, 1.5-metre deep pool with a rocky shoreline will house Humboldt penguins — warm weather birds found living along the Pacific coast of South America — in the summer. Part of the rocky slab can be heated, to accommodate Calgary’s cooler nights and only Plexiglas will separate birds from patrons.

In the colder months, King penguins — the second largest species, usually found on subantarctic islands such as South Georgia — will take up residence outside.

The second pool will be indoors and climate controlled to keep it cool for the Gentoos and Rockhoppers, also subantarctic birds, as well as the Kings during the summer.

Visitors will walk in through the middle of the pool, just over a metre of Plexiglas on either side, so they can see the penguins on the rocks or swimming around. Peterkin said the pool will continue under the pathway — which will have glass viewing areas in the floor — so the penguins can swim in a loop, as they like to do.

The new exhibit comes on the heels of some controversy at the zoo, including the death of 41 of cow nose rays last year, which was blamed on human error.

Its newest baby elephant, Malti, died at 15 months last fall after contracting elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus.

In October 2007, a hippo died after being confined too long in a shipping crate while travelling to Calgary from Denver. And in the span of a year, between 2006 and 2007, four gorillas died at the zoo.

Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck, said the penguins are a bad idea.

“I’ve seen a lot of penguin exhibits and very few of them are up to snuff when you look at (the birds’) behaviour,” he said, pointing to the fact many species in the wild wander over a large expanse. “We’d certainly like to see the zoo stop going for these big entertainment-based types of attractions.”

Dee Boersma, the Wadsworth endowed chair in conservation science at the University of Washington and with Penguin Sentinels, said the birds do quite well in zoos, if they have the appropriate environment.

“As long as they’ve got food, they’re fairly happy,” Boersma said, adding the four species that will live in Calgary are never found together in the wild. “Whether you like zoos or not, that’s one issue. But the real issue is most people are never going to see penguins in the wild.

“If we really want to conserve these species in the world, we have to make room for them and people have to care about them. If you never see them, you’re never going to care about them.”

Pointing to her local zoo, she said the penguin exhibit is a success, where “the kids just go wild and so do the penguins, chasing people’s fingers (along the Plexiglas.)”

Cheryl Martin, at the zoo with her son Kyle, 5, and Kim Zizakovic, with daughter Milana, 6, and son Maksim, 5, said given the slew of animated penguins in movies recently, the birds will appeal to kids.

“I think it will be really interesting,” Martin said, “but animal safety is paramount.”

Kyle said he’d like to see the birds, deeming them “cute,” an opinion echoed by Milana.


Penguin Slideshow

Slideshow here:HERE

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by filterfed
Volunteer Point, Falkland Islands. Photo taken by Cheryl Garin

Penguin predator tests inconclusive

Penguin predator tests inconclusive

Tests on DNA, taken from the carcasses of dead penguins found on beaches along Sydney's North Head, have not been able to identify whether the attackers were dogs or foxes.

Ten litte penguins, also known as fairy penguins, were killed by foxes or dogs over a nine day period earlier this month.

The department of environment and climate change says not enough DNA material was left on the penguins for investigators to make a conclusion.

Since the attacks, the department has hired trained marksmen to watch over the penguin colony after dark.


Bill and Sookie Cuddle the Penguins at Sea World

Bill and Sookie Cuddle the Penguins at Sea World

This year, it seemed like a ton of celebs flocked down to San Diego for Comic Con from Robert Pattinson to Scarlett Johanssen to Johnny Depp and Megan Fox. And just how do all the Diegans feel about celebs invading their turf? Um, they kinda love it. Since most of the celeb actions happen "so close yet so far" away in Los Angeles, San Diegans actually get pretty thrilled when they spy celebs walking down their streets, or so one of our local friends says.

Still, it's good to see that the sexy vampire-human couple, Bill Compton and Sookie Stackhouse (aka Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin of True Blood), did the tourist thing and visited some of the attractions of San Diego during their Comic-Con stay. The duo hit up Sea World and frolicked with the penguins at the park's Penguin Encounter. has all the pics of the cuteness.

Non-celeb visitors to the Penguin Encounter can admire the 300 cold weather birds during the exhibit's regularly scheduled tour but it doesn't look like normal folk can go behind the scenes and cuddle the penguins like Bill and Sookie did.

However, there are two different ways to get up close with the dolphins. The Dolphin Encounter allows you to touch and feed the dolphins and starts at $45 per person. The Dolphin Interaction allows you to actually hop in and swim with the dolphins (which is what Anna did) and that starts at $170 per person. Regular park tickets are $65 for ages 10 and up.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Images of the Day

Adorable pictures of Stephen & Anna at San Diego Sea World

On the last day of their stay in San Diego (Sunday July 26) Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer visited Sea World and played with a two-month-old Magellanic penguin chick and a macaroni penguin.

Penguin deaths stopped but sharp shooters remain

Penguin deaths stopped but sharp shooters remain
July 28, 2009 - 10:29AM

Snipers will continue to protect Sydney's rare penguins from predators despite no deaths being recorded in the past fortnight.

Foxes or dogs have mauled 11 of the endangered birds as they totter up the beach in Manly and North Head.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service got so worried the area's population of 60 breeding pairs was going to be decimated earlier this month they stationed snipers in the North Head grass to pick off any marauders.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change said that, although no more deaths have been recorded recently, the snipers would remain firmly in place.

"The good news is since we set up our intensive fox control program, coupled with widespread community appeal to keep dogs under control, we have not had any more penguins killed," a department spokeswoman said.

"The National Parks and Wildlife Service is continuing with measures which include comprehensive baiting and rotational shooters.

"Foxes are very sensitive to scent so the operation can only be successful if the shooters are only active for a few nights at any time.

"A number of baits have been taken over the last week although its possible we'll only know that we have been successful when we continue to have no further penguin mortality or no further baits taken."

DNA tests taken from the bodies of dead penguins found in the area are due to be available tomorrow.

It should finally establish whether dogs or foxes are responsible.

The colony of little penguins is said to be the only one on the NSW mainland.

There used to be hundreds of the birds on the north shore but attacks and urban development have dramatically reduced their numbers.

Angelika Triechler, who, with 30 volunteers from Manly Environment Centre, patrol Manly and North Head, said she had also not found any more dead penguins in the past fortnight.

Video available at source:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by Med Gull

Penguin patrol halts vicious attacks_Yay!

Penguin patrol halts vicious attacks
July 25, 2009

Vicious attacks on rare penguins in Sydney's northern beaches have been stopped, according to campaigners.

There was uproar earlier this month after it emerged the famous population of 120 little penguins at Manly and North Head was being mauled by foxes or dogs.

The National Parks Service was so worried about protecting the 60 breeding pairs they stationed two snipers to pick off any beasts trying to pounce on the birds.

Post-mortems have been carried out at Taronga Zoo on the 11 penguins found dead and DNA taken from bite marks has been examined to determine the identity of the attackers.

The National Parks Service even set up infrared sensors around North Head and let a sniffer dog loose to hound out any foxes.

Angelika Treichler, who along with 30 other Manly Environment Centre volunteers patrols Manly in a bid to protect the penguins, says the attacks have completely stopped.

"In total there's been 11 penguins killed now but none in the last two weeks since all this came out," she told AAP.

"I'm sure it is dogs that have been doing this because foxes tear out penguin's guts and eat their livers.

"Dogs just play with them and all the bodies we've found have been relatively few marks on them.

"Ever since it was published that DNA was being tested the attacks have stopped.

"Personally I think that is because dog owners are worried their animals may be identified as being responsible and are now keeping them under better control."

Ms Treichler admits she has snuck onto private beaches to protect the penguins.

There are several private beaches in Manly and North Head where she is not supposed to patrol.

But the campaigner said she could not stand idly by and watch the penguins be attacked.

"Some of the attacks happened on these beaches so we have been on there to make sure no more happen," Ms Treichler said.

Results of the DNA tests carried out on the penguins are due to be available on Wednesday.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Image of the Day

Yellow-eyed penguin
Originally uploaded by dmonniaux
This yellow-eyed penguin is molting. In the morning, out of its nest in the beach bluff at Oamaru, New Zealand, it blocked the path of another penguin, making menacing cries.

This Week's Pencognito!

Please visit Jen and all the pengies HERE

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Image of the Day

Day watch
Originally uploaded by Cpt Spaulding

Police Look for Penguin-Suited Robber

Police Look for Penguin-Suited Robber
By Elizabeth Braun, Melanie Stout

Jul 22, 2009

GREENFIELD - The gas station clerk was surprised to see a guy she thought was wearing a penguin costume. But when she saw the gun she knew what was happening.

It happened at 12:15 Wednesday afternoon at the Phillips 66 station at Highway 100 and Layton.

The clerk called 911 and gave this description: "He's a white male and has a penguin suit on with like a scarf covering his face, and he had, I'm not sure if the gun is real. I just saw a gun."

So the call went out: Penguin suit-clad robber on the run.

Officers took a closer look at the store's video.

"He was dressed in a black and a white hoodie underneath which made it look like a costume, but as we look at the video it was just different colored hoodies that he wore," says Detective Dave Patrick of the Greenfield police.

Penguin suit or not, as the bad guy waddled off, they did get video of the getaway car.

"Squads were close. He just happened to slip through this time," Patrick explained.

No one in the store was injured and video could help nab the robber.


Zoo's penguins to be treated to 'fishsicles'

Woodland Park Zoo's Humboldt penguins, a desert species, will be treated tomorrow to "fishsicles," as a cool-down for the heat on Wednesday.

Zoo's penguins to be treated to 'fishsicles'

By Robinson Newspapers Staff
July 21, 2009
Woodland Park Zoo

The colony of Humboldt penguins at the Woodland Park Zoo will be treated to five-gallon “fishsicles,” a block of ice with small fish, such as herring and smelt, on Wednesday, July 22 at 3:30 p.m.

Why would penguins at Woodland Park Zoo be cooled off during a heat wave? According to the zoo, Humboldt penguins is a species that lives in one of the harshest and driest desert habitats on earth.

Fishsicles are part of the zoo’s ongoing enrichment program to help enhance the lives of the zoo’s animals, promote natural animal behavior, keep animals mentally stimulated and provide added enjoyment for visitors.

Enter through Woodland Park Zoo’s West Entrance at North 55th Street and Phinney Avenue North. If late, proceed to the new penguin exhibit near the restaurant.


Galapagos penguins harbor malaria threat

Galapagos penguins harbor malaria threat

Penguins and malaria are not two organisms you would normally associate with each other, yet biologists have found the malaria parasite in an endangered species of the black-and-white waddlers.

Iris Levin of the University of Missouri at St Louis and her colleagues took blood samples from 362 Galapagos penguins – already listed as being threatened with extinction – on nine islands in the Galapagos archipelago.

All of the birds appeared healthy, but the tests revealed that 19 of the penguins, 5 per cent, carried the Plasmodium parasite, which causes malaria. The infected birds were spread across the archipelago, suggesting the parasite is not restricted to one small colony of penguins. Galapagos penguins move around the islands, so the parasite is likely to spread further, say the researchers.

"Plasmodium in Galapagos penguins is potentially disastrous for this species," says Bruce Hofkin, a parasitologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who was not involved in the study. "Most penguin species are very susceptible to Plasmodium and avian malaria is a real problem in zoos, where it is a major problems in penguin exhibits."

Dangerous visitor

The mosquitoes that can carry Plasmodium arrived on the archipelago in the 1980s, presumably on incoming boats or flights. Researchers have been concerned that the parasite may take hold but had not found any evidence of it until now.

Levin says that although the birds were healthy, there is still cause for concern. The biologists point out that Plasmodium has decimated wild bird populations in Hawaii; that the strain they found is closely related to a strain that causes avian malaria in captive penguins; and that the Galapagos penguins are unlikely to have encountered the malaria parasite before, making them vulnerable to it.

One other factor concerns them at least as much as all of the above is the El Niño phenomenon. The reduction in fish numbers during El Niño seasons can slash the penguin population in the Galapagos by up to 80 per cent. The researchers fear that this could trigger malaria symptoms and deaths in infected birds.

Although the Galapagos penguin population has been on the rise since the major El Niño event of 1997-98, when the penguins are thought to have been free of Plasmodium (Marine Ornithology, vol 29, p 43), it is still only half of what it was before.

Other research has suggested that stress can increase the death rate among birds that have malaria. And computer models suggest El Niño events may become slightly stronger with climate change. Put all this together, say the researchers, and you get the picture of the Galapagos penguins under attack from all sides.

Journal reference: Biological Conservation (DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.06.017)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Image of the Day

Adelea Penguin
Originally uploaded by Daedra Nicole
Adelie penguin at Brown Bluff Antarctica

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

News from TN Aquarium's Penguin Parents

Macaroni Chick: Day 1
(Below) Gentoo Chick: Day 1

The Tennessee Aquarium has another new addition to "Penguins' Rock." A baby gentoo was born yesterday and so far parents Bug and Big T have been doing a pretty good job with their chick. There has been some concern because these new parents were pretty rough while they were turning and incubating their eggs. In fact, one of the eggs was crushed in the nest and the remaining egg had a small chip out of it. Senior aviculturist Amy Graves showed me the second eggshell and it's amazing that the chip didn't go through to the interior of the shell. But penguin eggs are much thicker than chicken eggs, and therefore durable enough to take some scrapes and bumps in a nest built out of stone. However, one misstep by the parents now could cause injury to this tiny newborn.

One month ago, we watched Paulie and Chaos caring for their tiny baby. There are some differences between the two in the "Day one" photos above. For example, the mac chick is darker and doesn't resemble the parents at this early stage. However, the lighter colored gentoo chick already sports an orange beak and white circle around the eyes like its parents. But the baby doesn't have the signature gentoo white head stripe yet.

The baby macaroni penguin started off with light gray feet, but now they are turning pink like the adult macaronis. Notice that it still lacks the signature "macaroni" crest feathers in this more recent image.
You'll also notice how quickly this youngster has grown. The baby macaroni can be heard in the gallery while visiting the Tennessee Aquarium now. His loud calls are keeping Paulie and Chaos on a busy feeding schedule. This growing penguin seems to be famished all the time.


Friday Videos!

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by
out of the water after a surf!

More Info on TN Aquarium's 1st Gentoo Chick

First Gentoo Penguin Is Born At Tennessee Aquarium
by Thom L. Benson
posted July 16, 2009

The Tennessee Aquarium�s penguin exhibit is quickly becoming a nursery as another newborn penguin was welcomed into the world this morning.

Yesterday we noticed a small dime or nickel-sized hole in the egg, but there wasn�t much progress throughout the day, said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. But when I came in this morning, the fluffy little chick was out.

Since spotting the newborn early this morning, Ms. Graves has been able to see the whole chick several times. The Aquarium�s first baby gentoo penguin already resembles its parents Bug and Big T and looks different than the macaroni chick born nearly four weeks ago.

This gentoo chick is lighter in color on the back and has a darker head than the macaroni baby,ms. Graves said. It already has that orange gentoo beak with a few darker markings.

Big T fed the tiny bird on Thursday which is a bit early for a newborn penguin. While Aquarium staff members are encouraged by this sign, they also point out that the first days of a baby animal�s life are some of the most crucial for survival. There�s no way to know right now whether the chick is 100 percent healthy.

In addition, Bug and Big T are first-time parents and they haven�t exactly been gentle with their eggs.

They were a little rough while turning their eggs and tending them,� Ms. Graves said.They broke one in the nest and chipped their remaining egg. Hopefully they are gentler with the baby because one misstep by the parents could injure the chick in the nest.

Macaroni parents Paulie and Chaos are model parents according to Graves.

They have been great about protecting their chick, feeding it, keeping it warm and taking turns, Ms. Graves said. Ideally that's what will happen with Bug and Big T. Then as we saw with the macaroni chick, if things go well, baby penguins grow fast. So if you really want to see a baby penguin, you need to visit soon.

In fact, at Wednesday�s weigh-in, the four-week-old macaroni baby tipped the scales at slightly more than four pounds.

While many Aquarium visitors are amazed at how fast the macaroni baby has grown, they are also fascinated and excited to see this new gentoo baby penguin.

Bug and Big T�s nest is in the center of the exhibit in an elevated position, said Ms. Graves. We've already had several groups that were thrilled to see this new baby. It is so tiny and cute.

The nest is also in a perfect spot for the aquarium�s live webcam. While it's tough to see the small chick online, you can see the parents as well as curious neighbors stopping by to see the new addition.

There are two other gentoo pairs with eggs. If Poncho and Peep�s two eggs are viable, they could hatch later this month. The pair of eggs that Zeus and Pebbles are incubating could hatch around the first week of August. And penguin keepers are still observing the late nesting activities of Nipper and Flower.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

TN Aquarium's 1st Gentoo Chick Born Today

The offspring of Bug and Big T...

Image of the Day

Portrait of the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin taken on the W Coast of S Island New Zealand

Australia investigates mysterious penguin killings

A fairy penguin takes a look around at the boardwalk on Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday

Australia investigates mysterious penguin killings

By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press Writer Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press Writer – Wed Jul 15, 5:58 pm ET

SYDNEY – The first battered bodies were found on a small Australian beach, the white sand around them stained crimson with their blood. A few days later, the killer struck again — this time on the nearby cliffs overlooking Sydney Harbor. The cluster of victims were covered in bite marks, their tiny tummies slashed open.

Through blood-spatter evidence and DNA testing, a profile of the killer began to emerge: Stealthy. Fast. Furry.

What is killing the little penguins in Sydney's beachside suburb of Manly? A fox? A dog? Both?

The investigation so far has yielded some clues. Officials can almost certainly rule out humans; the bite marks and blood patterns point to foxes, which often hold prey in their mouths and prance around shaking it, said Sally Barnes, head of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

To Manly's "Penguin Wardens," a 30-member group of volunteer penguin protectors who spend hours each night guarding the birds, the culprit behind what they've dubbed the "Massacre at Manly Point" is less important than making sure it doesn't happen again.

"It's like a nightmare you can't wake up from," said grief-stricken chief penguin warden Angelika Treichler, a 67-year-old retired teacher who has been watching over the fluffy blue-and-white waddlers nearly every night for the past five years.

The investigation into the nine penguin deaths to date — and efforts to protect those still alive — has spread beyond the wardens to the New South Wales government. The parks service has sent DNA samples to a lab, but won't have results for at least a week.

As they hunt for the killer, parks service officials have set fox bait and traps, and warned residents to keep dogs locked up or on a leash.

"Really, it doesn't matter whether it's a fox or dog — we're not going to wait for the results," Barnes said. "We're just throwing everything we can at keeping the penguins safe."

This week, the parks service sent two "snipers" — trained sharpshooters from the state pest authority, armed with night vision goggles and .22-caliber rifles — to the cliffs to kill any foxes caught in their crosshairs.

Extreme? Not so much. This is, after all, a country that's considering building fences across chunks of Tasmania to help prevent endangered Tasmanian Devils with a contagious cancer from infecting the healthy population.

"Australians are generally animal lovers, and I think they're also very connected to native animals," Barnes said. "So they will do whatever's reasonable to protect particularly endangered ones."

And, as Manly Mayor Jean Hay noted: "Everybody's saying, 'Do whatever it takes to protect them.'"

To an outsider, however ...

"Snipers?" U.S. tourist Christy McLeod, from Bend, Ore., asked from her seat on Manly wharf, eyes darting to the sand where her son was playing. "Really?"

Not anywhere nearby, she was assured. And their targets are foxes, not people.

"That's creepy," she muttered. "They're PENGUINS."

Little penguins, actually. Also known as fairy penguins, they are the world's smallest penguin species, standing around a foot tall.

They are often seen in southern Australia and New Zealand, but are rare in New South Wales; the 120 that live in Manly are the only breeding colony left on the state's mainland, and they are considered endangered by the state government.

Five years ago, Treichler noticed a small group of penguins shuffling each night from the ocean to their nests under the wooden ramp leading to the adjacent beach. She was smitten — and petrified. Who would ensure their safety?

Thus began her nightly vigils next to the birds' nests. She puts off what most would consider important tasks — such as hip replacement surgery — until the three months of the year that the penguins head out to sea.

Others soon joined her, and today, 30 volunteer Penguin Wardens rotate night shifts. Aside from dogs and foxes, 22-year-old warden Elissa Barr cited other dangers: Flash photography disorients the birds. Trash can get stuck around their necks. And drunks sometimes step — and, Barr noted dryly — urinate on them.

But the volunteers can't be everywhere, as evidenced by the recent killings.

Treichler believes the birds were taken during their nightly march home. "In autopsies that were done, they had fresh fish in their tummies," she said from her perch on the Manly pier, the chilly nighttime breeze ruffling her white hair.

So the wardens stepped up their watches. On this night, seven stand guard over a nest of four. The birds are laying low, including the normally flamboyant Mr. Stickybeak. Treichler believes the silence from the private beach where the latest slaughter happened has alerted the Stickybeaks and their neighbors — Mr. and Mrs. Silverwing — to the danger.

"They are usually singing their love songs," she said. "But it's eerily quiet at the moment."

Suddenly, a man and his 6-year-old son approached with unsettling news: Just yesterday, they saw a dead penguin at a beach south of Sydney.

"Did he have his tummy opened?" Treichler asked.

"Yeah," the man replied. "And he was missing his head."

Treichler's face fell. A pained murmur rustled through the group.

"That's a fox," Treichler said.

She and another volunteer scurried off to check on the nests at the private beach. As she slipped away into the night, she conceded with a smile: "It's a bit illegal."

But the chief penguin warden had a job to do. Somewhere in the darkness, the killer still lurked.


Thanks to Kim Noyes for the heads up on this story!

Penguin: Facebook’s Future Twitter App?

Penguin: Facebook’s Future Twitter App?
July 15th, 2009 | by Ben Parr

We know that Facebook (Facebook) has recently been changing its privacy features and adding new features to open up its stream in a process we like to call Twitterification. And while Facebook’s adopting more and more features from its microblogging rival, we’re finding out that the reverse may also be true. Could an official Facebook Twitter app be on the horizon?

Well, a penguin is fueling speculation. Specifically, Penguin FB, a Twitter (Twitter) application that’s being tested on Facebook’s development servers. A tweet by Blake Ross, Facebook engineer and one of the founders of Firefox (Firefox), is riling up suspicions about an official Twitter app from Facebook.

The tweet, which we first learned about via Inside Facebook, is a test tweet from the unknown application. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Blake has deleted his tweet.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Image of the Day

White flippered little blue penguin on Motinau Island , North Canterbury, New Zealand.

Penguins On Phillip Island

Penguins On Phillip Island, Australia - Choreographed By Nature

By Kalpana Sunder
14 July 2009 @ 11:08 am ET

We feel as if we were here to watch a football match. There is a palpable electric feel in the air and expectancy is high. We hear a cry of excitement, "I can see one!" The crowds strain their necks and try to focus on the moon-lit waters. I train my binoculars and catch my first glimpse of a pair of wobbly feet. Now the deep blue sheen of a wing and then the head!

We are on Phillip Island, 140 km from Melbourne, Australia known for its pristine beaches, wildlife and most importantly the 'Penguin parade'. George Bass discovered the island in 1798 and named it after Australia's first governor, Arthur Philip. In the late 1920s an access to this island was built and organized viewing of the fairy penguins was organized and tourist traffic boomed!

We enter Phillip Island through a bridge linking the mainland after a scenic drive from Melbourne. We see the Koala Conservation centre, where there's a boardwalk and we get to hug these sleepy leaf munching marsupials. We also visit the Nobbies centre, which has a camera link with a nearby Fur seal colony and we get to see them frolicking on the rocks! We walk through the main building with coffee shops, souvenir stalls and take a five minute walk along the Summerland beach to reach the amphitheatre- like grandstand.

There are flood lights here and a massive crowd of spectators, many Japanese tourists among them. We see that there are other options too to view the fairy penguins. One is a Penguins plus Viewing platform that gives you a little shelter from the cold winds-at a cost of course! The other one is the elevated Sky-Box only for five tourists, in an enclosed elevated tower that also makes use of latest night view technology and has rangers to give commentaries!

We are given maps and a list of Dos and Don'ts by the volunteers and strictly instructed that photography is prohibited. Penguins' eyes are specialized for seeing underwater and on land at low light and are highly sensitive to sudden brightness. We are all bundled up as the icy blast whips through our clothing and we are elated to see our first fairy penguins, the stars of the show tonight.

The fairy penguins are native only to Australia and New Zealand. These diminutive birds are only 33 cms tall whereas their Antarctic cousins are as tall as 70 cm! They waddle towards us, some get thrown back by the tide and others assume roles of leaders as they guide the pack towards the green path leading to the burrows in the sand dunes.

What begins with a few birds is now a magical procession of hundreds! Some of them look hesitant as if crossing a busy road, others preen themselves for some imaginary ramp show, and others walk with military discipline in a single file towards their young ones in the burrows. Some penguins are so full of their dinner that they take some rest on the beach before waddling home! We are told that these frail-looking birds leave for the sea at dawn and sometimes swim as much as 100 km in search of food! They lay eggs in their burrows and both parents take turns in incubation.

These tuxedo-clad penguins have the gait of choreographed drunks! They make their way by following the cries of their young. We find it amazing as to how these cuddly creatures reach the precise shores without any homing devices or GPS and make it a daily sunset ritual.

As the penguins walk towards the burrows, we follow them on the dimly-lit wooden boardwalks and see some amazing sights. A penguin feeding a small one with open beak his cache of fish, some penguins communicating in excited cries and others watching the crowds with some interest before disappearing into their subterranean homes.

The wardens lead us towards the exit as we reluctantly leave this grand spectacle of nature. The black and white birds have made hundreds of fans tonight! It is a totally surreal experience. An event of nature has been orchestrated into something like a fairground experience with a truly Australian flavour!

All the more surreal because I don't have one photograph of the Parade (except for a postcard from the souvenir shop), but I can vividly recall in my mind's eye even today the sequence of events that night!


Blue penguins hit by cars on coastal Wellington roads

Blue penguins hit by cars on coastal Wellington roads

Updated at 12:41pm on 15 July 2009

Drivers are being urged to slow down on coastal Wellington roads because of deaths among the blue penguin population.

About 600 nesting pairs of blue penguins exist and while the species is not endangered, it is in decline.

The Department of Conservation says three of the penguins, the smallest in the world, were hit by motorists last weekend.

Jennifer Lynch of the Forest and Bird Society says each death has wider repercussions on the population, as if the adult bird gets killed on the road in the breeding season, their eggs will not be incubated or their chicks will die.

Ms Lynch says the key times for drivers to take care is at dawn and dusk when the penguins cross roads between the sea and their burrows.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Snipers to protect Sydney's penguins from fox attacks

Four little penguins walk towards the ocean in Sydney. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Snipers to protect Sydney's penguins from fox attacks

Night watch on endangered species in Australia after nine birds mauled to death

Fox attacks on endangered penguins have led Australia's wildlife authorities to post snipers at night to protect the birds.

A colony of about 120 little penguins (Eudyptula minor), also known as fairy penguins, at Quarantine beach in Sydney has recently lost about nine of its number to attacks. On Sunday night, the two snipers took their first watch but were unable to shoot the animals responsible.

"We've got infrared cameras as well to detect fox movements along with fox baiting … This is really a microcosm of the devastation foxes can wreak in some areas," the National Parks and Wildlife Service told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Autopsies on the dead penguins showed foxes or dogs were probably responsible because of the nature of the bite marks. DNA swabs were being analysed.

Angelika Treichler from local group Manly Environment Centre told the Herald the attacks were happening at dusk when the nocturnal penguins come ashore. She urged dog owners to keep their animals on leads.

Meanwhile, the snipers are there to stay. "We've had no luck so far finding what has done this so we'll keep on trying," the parks service said. "We'll be there for as long as necessary."



Maremma dog on patrol: the penguin population on the island has boomed (AAP: Warrnambool City Council, file photo)
Sheepdogs to guard island penguins

Posted Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:29am AEST

Maremma sheepdogs will continue to guard the Little Penguin population on Middle Island, off the coast of Warrnambool in Victoria's south-west.

The Warrnambool Council has voted to retain the two dogs on the island for the third consecutive year.

The council's environmental planner Ian Fitzgibbon says since the dogs were put on the island, there have been no known cases of foxes killing any seabirds this year.

And he says the penguin population on the island has boomed.

"Each year we learn something new, so having a 12-month commitment is probably just a good way of saying we're learning each time and there's always things we can improve on," he said.

He says the Little Penguin population has increased to about 80 adult birds and 32 chicks.

"I think it just really supports the benefits of using maremmas in agriculture and conservation management," he said.

"We've seen how our project has been successful, and we've had a lot of phone calls from around the world, people interested in using maremmas for other areas of predation protection."


This Humboldt Penguin Chick Has Been Hiding in a Burrow at the Akron Zoo for 3 Months

This Humboldt Penguin Chick Has Been Hiding in a Burrow at the Akron Zoo for 3 Months
Mon, 7/13/2009 - 8:11 PM

By David Barnhardt

Akron, OH - The Akron Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of an endangered Humboldt penguin chick. The penguin chick has emerged from the burrow and can be seen on exhibit when the parents allow the chick to come out and explore. Because of the bravery already shown by the chick, it has been named Tadeo, which means courage, by the Animal Care Staff.

Tadeo hatched April 14, 2009 and currently weighs about seven pounds. Tadeo has been in the water, which it did on its own. Usually, the first swim is more supervised by the parents and Animal Care Staff, but Tadeo decided to be brave and test the water alone. In the next couple of weeks the Animal Care Staff should be able to determine if Tadeo is male or female.

Tadeo is not able to fully eat on its own yet so the parents are still doing most of the feeding. The parents, Bopp and Jill, are fed four times a day, twice as much as the other penguins at the Akron Zoo. They are fed two varieties of fish: capelin and lake smelt. The parents feed penguin chicks by eating first and then regurgitating the food into their mouths. Tadeo should start eating by him or herself in a couple of weeks.

Humboldt penguins are warm climate penguins, unlike their Antarctic relatives. Humboldt penguins are commonly found in more temperate climates like Peru and Chile.

The Humboldt penguin is currently an endangered species. This is due primarily to commercial harvesting of guano for agricultural fertilizer. Without nesting locations, the Humboldt penguins are in serious danger of extinction. Some estimates indicate the possibility of extinction in the wild in the next 10 years. The Akron Zoo houses these penguins as part of the Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan, which is a cooperative effort with other zoos to save endangered species through work in captivity and in the wild. The birth is a result of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan.

The Akron Zoo is home to over 700 animals from around the world and is open 361 days a year. Hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and admission is $10 for adults, $7.50 for senior citizens, $6 for children (ages 2-14). Children under two are free and parking is $2.00. For more information visit or call (330) 375-2550.

The Akron Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.

To view Akron Zoo's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to:


Image of the Day

Pinguin :-)
Originally uploaded by oO ~ Tobi ~ Oo

Monday, July 13, 2009

Snipers patrol Sydney penguin colony

Snipers patrol Sydney penguin colony

The Daily Telegraph

July 13, 2009 12:01am

SNIPERS will patrol the beach to protect Sydney's endangered little penguins as CSI-style forensics are used to find the killer - or killers - of nine of the colony at Manly.

An investigation into the penguin deaths at North Head was dramatically stepped up yesterday after another little penguin was found mauled to death on Quarantine Beach on Saturday.

It was the ninth from an endangered colony of just 60 pairs killed by either a dog or fox in the past 10 days.

Four dead penguins were found last Friday and a further four in following days.

Autopsies at Taronga Zoo had confirmed the penguin's injuries were consistent with a dog or fox attack.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service contracted two gunmen armed with .22 calibre rifles to patrol Quarantine Beach and surrounding areas late last night after fox tracks were found in the area.

The shooters will return to the area again tonight.

Manly council has also enlisted the services of Australia's only animals forensics experts to try to find the animal responsible.

They hoped DNA swabs taken from the dead penguins would identify the breed of dog involved.

If a dog matching the description is identified, council have the authority to execute a warrant at the owner's address to sample the dog's DNA.

If it matched that taken from the penguins, the dog owner faced heavy fines and possible criminal charges.

Attacks on the penguins took place on private beaches with no public access, making the population difficult to monitor.

But a group of vigilante activists from the Manly Environment Centre have vowed to do "whatever it takes" to protect the penguins and have enlisted an army of 30 volunteers to watch over the penguins night and day.

Group spokeswoman Angelika Treichler said the attacks were occurring about dusk, when the penguins returned from their fishing trips, and during mating.

"They are being attacked when they have a full belly of fish, or when they are mating out of their burrows and not really paying attention," Ms Treichler said.

Sydney is home to eight colonies of endangered species, ranging from bandicoots and ospreys to frogs and squirrel gliders.

WIRES spokeswoman Jilea Carney said pet owners should keep domestic animals separated from wildlife at all times by locking them inside at night, attaching double bells to cat collars and never allowing a dog to roam in or near a national park.

National Parks and Wildlife director Sally Barnes said animals should be reported immediately.

"We are appealing to all dog owners in the region to be particularly vigilant," Ms Barnes said.

"The loss of any penguins in this fragile community is terrible."


Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by 3yellowpups