Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Newport Aquarium to renovate penguin exhibit

Posted: Nov 29, 2010 8:46 AM CST Updated: Nov 29, 2010 9:13 AM CST
source: newportaquarium.com source: newportaquarium.com
NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - Newport Aquarium has announced plans to completely overhaul the Kroger Kingdom of Penguins exhibit.

The exhibit, one of the aquariums most popular areas, is currently home to three species of penguin (King, Gentoo and Chinstrap) as well as 28 birds.  It was one of the aquarium's original exhibit areas when the facility opened in 1999.

The new project, set to begin in January of 2011, will be a complete re-conceptualization of the cold penguin exhibit. It will include new seating for aquarium guests, an improved habitat for penguins, expanded gallery space, and a new live show.

The cold penguin display will be closed from the beginning of January until it reopens in March of 2011. Penguin Encounters and the daily Penguin Parade, both of which feature warm-weather African penguins, will continue during the renovation.


Edinburgh Zoo Penguin Cam a Hit!

Snow joke: Edinburgh penguins are world stars

penguin, penguins, king penguins, edinburgh zoo
THOUSANDS may be cursing the snow and ice currently gripping Scotland but In one part of Edinburgh there are some very happy customers - the city zoo's penguins.

While the rest of the capital ground to a halt the Gentoo and King penguins at the zoo have become an internet sensation with their happy antics beamed to the world via the Zoo's very own Penguin Cam.

Ironically, while the zoo itself was forced to close today because of the weather, the Penguin Cam became one of the hottest trending topics in the world on the social networking site Twitter with people passing on the link to friends.

And many of those logging on to watch the birdies were themselves snowbound workers unable to get to their offices.

One user said: "I can't stop watching the Edinburgh Zoo penguins. I've started doing voices for them and everything."

Another said: "After watching the Edinburgh Zoo penguins today, I definitely feel the need to go home and watch Happy Feet.

And another said: "Snow day. Slippers, cups of tea, malt loaf and watching the penguins at Edinburgh Zoo enjoy the snow."

A spokesperson for the zoo said: "This a lovely think to see and it has struck the heartchords of thousands."

To watch the penguins live click here (note: The cameras are not enabled for night vision!)


Bookmarked: Edinburgh Zoo penguin cam snowed under with Twitter hits

Zoo closed but penguin snow antics still a hit online
King Penguins on the Falkand Islands
The penguin webcam at Edinburgh Zoo became an internet hit today | pic: PR 
Edinburgh Zoo is closed today due to the weather making it too dangerous for public access. But with hundreds of animals needing fed, most of the staff are still there.

When the attraction's marketing assistant Claire Richardson arrived at work this morning she noticed the penguin webcam was down. She could see the Gengtoo penguins were more active than ever, sliding around in the fresh snow, so rebooted the camera.

Richardson - who also looks after the zoo's Twitter account - sent out a tweet to let people know that, even though the zoo was shut, they could still tune in to see the penguins in action. Within just two hours, Edinburgh Zoo was trending in the UK's top Twitter searches. Richardson's link to the penguin cam was getting up to ten retweets every minute at one point.

She said:
"The penguin cam is always popular but it's gone absolutely crazy today, to the point where I can't keep up with how many times it has been linked to.
"It's lovely to hear that people are watching them with their children when they can't come along to the zoo itself.
"We're also seeing comments from people who have made it to work saying the penguin cam is so cute and distracting that their productivity is going down.
"There has been a lot of coverage of the doom and gloom snow brings, but this is the other side of that. Some people - and animals - absolutely love snow. So it's nice to cheer people up."

The zoo was due to be open for free tomorrow to mark St Andrew's Day, however officials warn that the weather is likely to mean people will have to settle for the penguin cam again.

Twitter user danpyt described it as 'actually the best thing on the internet,' while EmilyMayHowarth said she didn't even want snow but was 'jealous' of the fun the penguins were having.
Click here to see the penguins.


Robot to Follow Penguins as They Hunt for Food

People place an instrument in the water.
Photo Courtesy: Mark Moline
Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek
Adélie penguins near Palmer Station.
Left: Scientists deploy a REMUS AUV over the side of a small boat off the coast of Florida. Mark Moline will employ a similar instrument in Antarctica to track Adélie penguins as they hunt for food during their breeding season to learn about the places they favor.

Bird watching

Autonomous robot to follow penguins as they hunt for food

Mark Moline External Non-U.S. government site was working on his PhD in the early 1990s when he was last doing research along the Antarctic Peninsula — the first graduate student of the nascent Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (PAL LTER) program External Non-U.S. government site.

Scientists with the PAL LTER were only just getting a handle on the marine ecosystem of the northwestern peninsula region at the time. They knew the sea ice that waxed and waned on the ocean waters with the seasons played a key role, serving as an important habitat for critters from Adélie penguins to shrimplike krill.
What they didn’t know then was that the region was already undergoing remarkable changes. A warmer and moist subantarctic climate was shoving the colder and drier conditions farther south.

Now the researchers understand the northern Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than just about anywhere on the planet. Average winter temperatures have increased about 6.5 degrees Celsius since the 1950s, rising more than five times faster than the global average.

Deep, warm water is flooding onto the relatively shallow continental shelf due to complex interactions between the ocean and atmosphere. That’s affected the lifecycle of winter sea ice, which on average has dropped by three months per year, meaning it forms later and melts earlier. Year-round sea ice has virtually disappeared.

The sea-ice dependent species have also taken a hit. The most obvious and well-documented is the plight of the Adélies. If current conditions persist, the local colonies will be all but extinct by the end of the decade.
That’s the Antarctic Peninsula today, about 17 years after Moline last visited. Now a professor at California Polytechnic State University External Non-U.S. government site and director of the school’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences External Non-U.S. government site, Moline will return to the Ice this season to help answer an important question about Adélie ecology in the context of today’s changing climate.

Namely: Why do they forage in the locations that they do?

And the best way to figure that out is to follow the adult penguins while they are busy searching for food for their young chicks during the height of the fledgling period in December and January.
Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek
Adélie penguins near Palmer Station.
Divers in the water with an object.
Photo Courtesy: Mark Moline
Divers handle the AUV in more temperate waters than what the robot will swim through in Antarctica.
For that job Moline will employ a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) whose suite of sensors will tell scientists about the oceanographic conditions where the penguins hunt, as well as the biomass of potential prey in the area — how much food is available to eat.

“The underwater vehicle matches up almost identically to the birds’ endurance, depth and speed characteristics,” Moline explained. “It does what a penguin does in terms of its foraging journey. It’s an ideal tool for going out and characterizing these birds.”

Moline is collaborating with Bill Fraser External Non-U.S. government site, who heads the seabird component of the PAL LTER program. Members of Fraser’s team spend each austral summer working out of the U.S. Antarctic Program’s External U.S. government site smallest research base, Palmer Station External U.S. government site, tracking and observing the Adélies and other bird populations.

The Palmer Station “birders” use satellite tags to track individual penguins. The researchers have known for some time the Adélies favor various canyons along the continental shelf where the bathymetry, or underwater topography, induces an upwelling of warmer water.

The conditions seem to produce a hotspot of biological activity, offering a reliable and long-term source of food for the penguins.

Fraser said that Moline’s instrument should provide information to test hypotheses about these hotspots and better define the conditions that exist. “These data should also provide some predictive capabilities, by which I mean they should give us some idea about where Adélie colonies may emerge in the southern [Western Antarctic Peninsula] as warming continues,” Fraser said.

The canyons near Palmer Station and similar features down the peninsula have been explored to some degree by a different AUV called a Slocum glider. However, the REMUS vehicle will be able to follow the birds in “real-time” based on location information from the satellite tags.

“That’s the first time that’s been done,” Moline said. “The animals can tell us where they’re going, but the vehicles can tell us why they’re going there.”

Moline and his colleagues have deployed the AUVs around the world in all sorts of environments, logging more than 5,000 kilometers under water on more than 250 missions.
Torpedo-shaped instrument in water.
Photo Courtesy: Mark Moline
The REMUS vehicle has logged more than 250 missions.
Their research includes work in the Arctic off Svalbard, Norway, where the intrusion of North Atlantic Ocean water into the region is potentially disrupting the food web. One bird species, the little auk, which superficially resembles a penguin, was found to be diving deeper in the water to find more nutritious prey.

“It’s a similar study but in a different area,” Moline noted.
For the Antarctic study — a one-year field project funded by the National Science Foundation’s External U.S. government site  EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) program — Moline and technician Ian Robbins will spend about five weeks at Palmer Station. Every couple of days they will release the AUV to hunt with the penguins, as well as to characterize areas where the penguins aren’t going.

“One of the efforts here is to not only characterize the penguins’ habitat, per say, but also do it in the context of this large-scale change that is occurring,” Moline said.

Moline said he hopes the technology will prove its worth on this trial project so that it can be used in the future to track the other animal populations in the region, including the gentoo and chinstrap penguins, subantarctic species that are growing in numbers as the Adélies decline.

“It seems like these tools are prime time for polar regions,” Moline said. “We’ve been trying to push these technologies in the polar regions that are traditionally under sampled from a marine perspective. We’re trying to break some new ground here with some new technology.”

In addition to the collaboration with Fraser’s Polar Oceans Research Group, Moline’s data will be used as part of a NASA External Non-U.S. government site program involving several institutions that links satellite data of changes in the ocean to penguin foraging.

All of this effort will eventually feed into the bigger picture of how climate change is affecting the ecosystem of the Antarctic Peninsula, according to Moline.

“It’s pretty amazing that large-scale changes can occur during one’s career,” he said.
NSF-funded research in this story: Mark Moline, California Polytechnic State University, Award No. 1019838 External U.S. government site

Image of the Day

Click here for full size wallpaper

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This Week's Pencognito!!

Visit Jen and all the Pengies HERE!

Edinburgh zoo serves sustainable fish to sea lions and penguins

Fish will come from Marine Stewardship Council-approved stocks if nutritional value is proved
  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Miranda the sea lion eating MSC-certified Scottish herring at Edinburgh Zoo
    Miranda the sea lion eating MSC-certified Scottish herring at Edinburgh Zoo. Photograph: Karen Murray/MSC/PA 
    Sea lions and penguins at Edinburgh zoo are changing diet to help save threatened fish stocks, even if adapting a Rick Stein seafood recipe may remain beyond them. They are in the vanguard of a push by the Marine Stewardship Council encouraging zoos to follow retailers and restaurants in using only sources it has certified as sustainable. Uncertified herring are no longer disappearing down the throats of Sofus and Miranda, the zoo's sea lions. They have been replaced by MSC-approved stocks from Scottish waters. The zoo's 200 penguins will be soon guzzling certified South African hake instead of blue whiting from the Pacific if trials prove them a suitable substitute. Darren McGarry, animal collection manager for the zoo, said: "We're really pleased that the Patagonian sea lions have taken to their new feed. Zoo animals can be very picky about what they eat but they've taken to the MSC-certified feeds straight away." Gentoo penguins were also rather choosy diners, said McGarry, and it was important to ensure their new diet suited them in taste and nutrition. "It's important as well that the South Africa hake fishery has radically reduced its seabird bycatch as part of its MSC certification – a cut that means thousands of seabirds will be saved. We're really pleased to support that work and will be working towards adding a recommendation for MSC-certified feed with any penguin we export to another zoo." MSC's Claire Pescod said the sea lions' change of food "supports the Scottish fishing communities that rely on the certified herring fishery and have proved their sustainability through the MSC process". Source

Penguins prosper thanks to peninsula farmers

Date:  25 November 2010

Shireen and Francis Help’s natural affection for kororā/white flippered penguins have earned them the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board Award for 2010.
Shireen and Francis Helps recieve board award.
DG Al Morrison, Board Chair Steve Lowndes present the trophy to Francis and Shireen Helps
The Helps of Flea Bay, Banks Peninsula recieved their award at a private ceremony held Tuesday 23 November, after the Canterbury earthquake forced the postponement of the award ceremony.
The prize included Te Waka o Aoraki trophy and a prize pack.
 “Their project which spans the last twenty years is a perfect example of how farming and conservation can go hand in hand, complimenting each other,” explained Board Chair, Steve Lowndes.
“It’s often joked that Francis and Shireen don’t farm sheep, they farm penguins, but there is some real truth in this.
“They have kept their cattle out of important penguin areas and carry out trapping at the busiest times of the farming year.
Their work has meant that the largest white-flippered penguin colony on the mainland is safeguarded from extinction,” said Mr Lowndes.
The board was also impressed with how generous the husband and wife team were with sharing their knowledge and expertise with other local farmers, helping them with pest control and support.
“They’ve also hosted many students and volunteers over the years, and set up a sustainable tourist venture that raises awareness of these special values with visitors from all over New Zealand and internationally,” said Mr Lowndes.
This year Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board received five nominations for their annual Conservation Board Award, for conservation projects across Canterbury Conservancy.
The awards committee drew up a shortlist based primarily on the quality of the initial application, the backup material provided, the length of time that the project had been running, and the conservation gains that had been achieved.
The winner of this annual award is usually announced during Conservation Week celebrations in September, which this year was themed “Love New Zealand - show your natural affection.”


Edinburgh Zoo's penguins joined by Army divers

Army diver with gentoo penguins
Photo - © Mark Owens
Edinburgh Zoo’s penguin colony welcomed some unusual swimming partners this week when they were joined by a group of professional divers from the British Army.

Two officers and 12 non commission officers and sappers from the 39 Engineer Regiment spent four days with the penguins to conduct a specialised survey of the Zoo’s 18 year old penguin pool.

Roslin Talbot, Head Keeper of Penguins and Sea Lions said, ‘We noticed recently that water levels in the penguin pool were dropping, but couldn’t identify any obvious leaks from the outside. Employing a commercial diving company to survey our pool would cost us thousands of pounds, so when the army offered to do a complimentary survey we were delighted.’

Using self contained and surface supply military diving equipment, the divers recorded a detailed survey with a hand held camera to log the condition of the pool and identify any problem areas.

Captain Iain Thompson, Unit Diving Officer for the 39 Engineer Regiment said, ‘We had no idea what condition the pool would be in before we arrived because it has never had a professional underwater survey carried out before, but we didn’t discover any major problems.

‘We did highlight a few areas of concern including some minor cracking in the structure of the pool and general wear and tear to the pool’s membrane, but we’ve carried out some remedial work to seal the cracks and remove the damaged material. This should stop any leaks in the meantime.’

The survey and footage taken by the army will be important to the Zoo going forward, allowing RZSS  to monitor the condition of the pool and prepare for any maintenance in the future. 

Captain Thompson continued, ‘Obviously this was a tricky exercise as we didn’t want to disrupt the penguins, but I’m pleased to say the survey went really well.  Not only did we collect some good quality information for the Zoo, but we managed to achieve some of our own diving and training objectives as a team. It has certainly been one of the most unusual surveys we have carried out, but we were happy to help!’  

Roslin added, ‘Although the penguins were initially very wary of the divers, by the second day curiosity took hold and the whole exercise proved to be good enrichment for them. The gentoo penguins were particularly interested, darting up and down the pool to find out what the divers were up and showing off their own diving skills!’


More info:

Michaela Crosthwaite, PR Officer        0131 314 0312
Editor’s Notes

•    Edinburgh Zoo has the largest outdoor penguin pool in the world.

•    There are three different kinds of penguin at the Zoo. Currently there are 19 rockhoppers, 10 king penguins and 186 gentoo penguins.

•    The daily penguin parade is still one of the most popular attractions at the Zoo. The parade began in 1951 when a keeper accidentally left the gate open. The penguins went for a short walk and then returned to their enclosure.


'Fraser's Penguins': Fen Montaigne's account of the Adélie penguin and its rapidly warming home

"Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica" is journalist and writer Fen Montaigne's breathtaking account of the life and times of the Adélie penguin of Antarctica, a species whose storm-tossed home is warming up faster than nearly any spot on earth, thanks to global warming. Montaigne will discuss his book at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall Seattle.
Special to The Seattle Times

Author appearance
Fen Montaigne

The author of "Fraser's Penguins" will discuss his book at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle. Tickets are $5 in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com, at 800-838-3006, and at the door. 
The best books about far-off places make the exotic relatable, make the unimaginable plausible. In "Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica" (Henry Holt, 288 pp., $26), journalist and travel writer Fen Montaigne does both. He puts us up on deck as life-ending stormy waters roil off the coast of Antarctica; puts us on the ice as he's attacked (and describes attacks) by some of the world's most mysterious creatures; bundles us in warmth as we tumble out into an otherworldly, snowy, icy, chilling, breathtaking expanse.
The year is 2005. Montaigne is tailing longtime ecologist Bill Fraser as he conducts his ongoing research of Adélie penguins during breeding season on the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula. Over five months, he sees firsthand what Fraser has observed since his studies began in the early 1970s — that this fragile, starkly beautiful ecosystem is warming faster than nearly any spot on Earth (an 11 degrees Fahrenheit winter heat rise in the past 60 years) and becoming inhospitable to many of the creatures that have called it home for thousands of years, including the tuxedoed, iconic Adélie penguin.

Melting sea ice means less krill, which means fewer of the Adélie, fewer of its predator, the brown skua, and an invasion of warmer-weather gentoo penguins. By focusing on the imperiled future of one Antarctic species, he demonstrates the interconnected, questionable future for them all (and in turn, the rest of the planet).
The astonishing vignettes woven throughout are not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Montaigne's descriptions are painstakingly clear, which means that brutal moments, like a pair of skuas ripping apart a fuzzy penguin chick for dinner, seem real enough to make the reader flinch. His story of orcas smashing up through ice, attempting to nab unsuspecting seals and other potential prey (ponies, dogs, men) generates goose bumps — especially when he names adventurers who have narrowly dodged a similar fate, close enough to feel the "fishy smelling" blast of orca breath.

But the sublime moments are utterly so.

"One evening as we wrapped up our work on Torgersen, Fraser looked at groups of a dozen or two Adélies walking past us on their way from the sea to their colonies. As the overcast skies grew imperceptibly darker, the penguins' white breasts gleamed against the gray cobble, the clinking of their pink feet on the stones reminiscent of wind chimes."

Readers of this book would benefit from keeping Internet access nearby so the snow petrels, leopard seals, great southern petrels and other creatures he mentions (only a few species are pictured) can be better visualized to add gorgeous context. Birders, historians, those concerned about the environment and adventure lovers will find much to savor in this book.


Deadly virus threatens penguin population

A yellow-eyed penguin

Fri, 26 Nov 2010 6:23p.m.
By Annabelle Jackman
The Department of Conservation is fighting a virus that is killing yellow-eyed penguins on the Otago Peninsula.
The avian diphtheria has already killed 40 chicks and DoC is trying to stop it spreading.
“They get these cheesy sores around their bill that makes it hard for them to eat and swallow and they end up dying often from kidney failure,” says David Agnew from DoC.
Mr Agnew believes the chicks contracted the virus from their home environment.
They are being treated with antibiotics, and every precaution is being taken to prevent the virus from being transferred to other birds.
“For staff visiting separate colonies all footwear clothing and equipment is thoroughly disinfected before going to a new site to reduce the chance of us spreading the disease,” he says.
And everyone is working to ensure breeding numbers are maintained.
“They are very vulnerable to this avian diphtheria within the first two to three weeks of life. And so they're just hatching at the moment so this is an extremely vulnerable time,” says Sue Murray from The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust.
The next few weeks will be critical for the endangered Hoiho.
3 News


VIDEO: Christmas Penguin Parade


Another Video of the Baby Gentoo Penguin Born In Australia


Image of the Day

King Penguin companion
Originally uploaded by ImNoFish

Image of the Day (yesterday)

Originally uploaded by ImNoFish

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

101 Dalma.... No! It's Penguins!

One Hundred and One Penguins Now Showing at Living Coasts Aquarium

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 7:34 AM
By Philip Knowling

Torquay, UK - There are one hundred and one of them and they are black and white and spotty - but they are not Dalmatian puppies, they’re penguins.
Living Coasts in Torquay is now home to 101 African penguins.
Living Coasts Aquarium Director Elaine Hayes said: “It’s like 101 Dalmatians round here – all these small black and white creatures running about, nibbling things, causing mischief. And African penguins have spots on them, too, just like Dalmatian puppies!”
The popular African penguin colony has been breeding successfully at Torquay’s coastal zoo ever since it moved from Paignton Zoo in 2003. This is the largest the group has been.
Head Keeper Lois Rowell said: “Not all of our African penguins are sexed, but we think the split is roughly 50/50, which is a good structure for the colony, as penguins pair up. They tend to be monogamous so they generally stay with a partner for life. Some do change, mainly if one partner dies.”
The African penguins range in age from 2 months to 32 years. Pat is the oldest, while two unnamed youngsters belonging to Charlie and Mrs Charlie and hatched this year are the youngest. There are about 29 adult breeding pairs of African penguins on the beach.
“Jackie and Toby aged 31 and 29 are our oldest couple. The pair that has been together the longest is George and Rosie aged 22 and 21, who have been paired for approximately 14 years. In all, 59 of the present colony were born at Living Coasts.”
There are also 30 macaroni penguins, three of which were hatched this summer.
For more information go to www.livingcoasts.org.uk or ring (01803) 202470.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Image of the Day

Gang of Macaroni Penguins
Originally uploaded by mgsbird
Photographed at Cooper Bay, South Georgia

Monday, November 22, 2010

A video on the prosthetic beak for the baby penguin

Baby Penguin New Beak
A procedure to restore a baby penguin's beak is complete.
The five-month-old penguin was found on a beach outside Rio de Janeiro with a shattered bill that was damaged by a boat propeller.
The penguin was in danger of dying without a beak, and the prosthetic replacement allows him to eat again on his own. He's expected to make full recovery in three weeks and will be sent to a breeding center in California for rehabilitation.


More on William and Kate

Dudley Zoo names new penguin chicks William and Kate 
Humboldt penguins
Humboldt penguins are classed as 'vulnerable'
Keepers at Dudley Zoo are celebrating the royal engagement by naming two rare baby penguins after Prince William and Kate Middleton.

One of the Humboldt chicks was born on the day the announcement was made and the other had hatched ten days earlier.

Chief Executive Peter Suddock said: "We were thinking of names for the chicks so we called them William and Kate to mark the occasion."
The zoo has a colony of over 60 parent-reared Humboldt penguins.

Local links

Peter Suddock also pointed out the tourist attraction's royal history.
He said: "Dudley Zoo incorporates the 11th century Dudley Castle which has strong connections. Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II have both visited and several dukes and earls have strong ties with the site."

"We wish Prince William and Kate Middleton a long and very happy future," he added.

Humboldt penguins are native to South America and named after the cold water current in which they swim.
The current itself takes its name from explorer Alexander Von Humboldt.

Dudley Zoo says the species is classed as vulnerable due to a declining population.

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by bb_productionz
South Africa 2010

Good Morning, Tennessee Aquarium!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

VIDEO: Rescued penguin Elvis

MEET Elvis - a feathered dude with attitude, according to the team at Mt Martha Veterinary Clinic.
The Little Penguin was found stumbling around on Mt Martha beach last Wednesday when he was rescued by a group of teens.
The vet clinic checked his health before handing him over to a penguin and pelican carer in Langwarrin.
>> Look below to see a video of Elvis the penguin in action


Injured penguin gets prosthetic beak

 Lori Obert   
RIO DE JANEIRO - An injured penguin that lost a piece of its beak now has a new one.
The penguin was found stranded on a beach near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and was brought to a local zoo.
Its beak was shattered by a boat propellor and could only eat with the help of caretakers.
The zoo's veterinarian fit the five month old penguin with an acrylic beak to help the bird eat and catch fish on its own.
In a few weeks, he is expected to fully recover and be ready to travel to a breeding center in California.

Image of the Day

New England Aquarium's Banner Year

'Match.com for Penguins' Breeds Success at New England Aquarium

Credit: New England Aquarium.

The New England Aquarium's most successful African penguin breeding season recently ended with the birth of 11 new chicks, according to aquarium biologists.

Those 11 hatchlings have since grown into juveniles and rejoined their parents in the aquarium's African penguin exhibit. [Related: Flightless Birds: All 18 Penguin Species]

This success was no accident. With African penguins dwindling in the wild, breeders left little to chance. Breeding season kicked-off with a "mating draft," continued under tight supervision behind the scenes, and ended 80 days later with young penguins reuniting with their parents in the exhibit.

Penguin Match.com

Penguin biologists handpick the penguins that will hook up. "If they mated willy-nilly, everyone would be related to each other," said Andrea Desjardins, a penguin biologist at the New England Aquarium. "We're just trying to make sure we're breeding these animals as responsibly as possible."

During penguin match-making, what matters most is on the inside — way inside, in a mating pair's DNA. Opposites attract, genetically speaking, and aquariums participate in a special program to keep their penguins genetically diverse. "It's like Match.com for penguins," said Steven Sarro, director of animal programs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.

The genealogy of each African penguin in this program is unquestionable. When aquarium breeders meet every two years they rank penguins by their genes, and these rankings decide mating pairs.

The most recent mating meeting was at the New England Aquarium. Desjardins said the draft was like a scene from a fantasy football draft, with sticky notes covering boards and penguin biologists hashing out trades — "We need three females! We need 4 males! Indoor or outdoor?"

Deals are struck and penguins are paired. Some return home to make babies. Others hit the road.

Don't come a knockin' 

The New England Aquarium ended this year's mating draft with eight breeding pairs. Their honeymoon was unromantic — a white kitty litter box-top inside a modified dog-kennel, with enough blue, plastic aquarium plants to build a nest — but that hardly mattered, especially for the experienced. "As soon as they get behind the scenes and see that room, they know what they're here for," Desjardins told OurAmazingPlanet. "They get right down to business."

Couples are more like friends-with-benefits than husband and wife. The benefits? A couple of eggs.
After a pregnancy that's still not fully understood by scientists, African penguins lay two eggs at most, which they incubate for 40 days. Upon hatching, the average African penguin chick will weigh 2 to 3 ounces (60 to 80 grams) — tiny enough to cup in your hand.

Hatchlings and parents bond as long as possible. During this time, the parents feast on sardines and anchovies so they'll have enough food to regurgitate to the chicks. Chicks eventually begin fledging when waterproof feathers transform the fluff balls into water-ready torpedoes. After fledging, penguin biologists teach the chicks to hand-feed and swim.

Back with the gang 

Young penguins grow fast. This summer's chicks are now adult-sized, yet they will stand-out to the savvy observer. Feathers are the key. A chick's first set of waterproof feathers are a solid silvery-gray color on its back and head, while its belly is white. The color scheme changes around 2 years of age when white stripes on the eyes and black stripes on the chest mark an adult.

As the New England Aquarium's new penguins grow into adults, they are confined to the exhibit and will never help repopulate African penguins in the wild. Threats to the wild African penguins — oil spills and fewer fish — must be resolved before breeders would consider releasing the aquarium penguins into the wild, Sarro said.

But by displaying the penguins in Boston, people can connect with these endangered animals without travelling half-way around the globe, which will hopefully raise awareness about their shrinking numbers, Desjardins said.

As early as 60 days after hatching, young penguins can rejoin their parents in the exhibit.


Baby penguins at Dudley Zoo named after William and Kate following Royal engagement

Nov 20 2010 by Chris Henwood, Birmingham Mail 

BIRD keepers at Dudley Zoo celebrated the royal engagement by naming two rare baby penguins after William and Kate.
Baby penguins William and Kate with Dudley Zoo keeper Sam Grove
The Humboldt penguin chicks were born this week at the leading Midlands tourist attraction.
Zoo boss Peter Suuddock said: “We were thinking of names for the youngsters when the royal announcement was made so we called them William and Kate to mark the occasion.
“Dudley Zoo incorporates the 11th century Dudley Castle which has strong royal connections.
“Queen Elizabeths I and II have both visited and several dukes and earls have strong ties with the site, so we felt it fitting to send William and Kate an adoption pack for their namesakes and wish them well.”
The zoo’s colony of 60-plus parent-reared Humboldts is one of the largest in the UK.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by DireLight

Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctic

Journalist and author Fen Montaigne spent five months on the Antarctic Peninsula working on the field team of penguin expert and ecologist Bill Fraser, who has for several decades studied the impact of the region's rapidly rising temperatures on Adélie penguins and other wildlife. That story is chronicled in his new book, Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctic and in the following pictures.

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a legendary Antarctic explorer who participated in Robert Falcon Scott's 1910-1913 expedition to the South Pole, had this to say about the world's most popular bird: "All the world loves a penguin. Had we but half their physical courage none could stand against us. [They are] fighting against bigger odds than any other bird, and fighting always with the most gallant pluck."
The movie, "The March of the Penguins," cemented the public's affection for the largest penguin species, the waist-high emperor. But equally beloved is the only other penguin species that lives and breeds exclusively in Antarctica -- the classic tuxedoed penguin, the Adélie.

 For the rest of the story, as well as about 20 pictures of the Adelie penguin, go HERE

This Week's Pencognito!!


http://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/pubwaddle-4.jpgPlease visit Jen and all the pengies HERE!

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