|Painting a penguin’s tale|
|April 21, 2010, 02:41 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff|
Five-year-olds sat quietly while eagerly giving a little thumbs-up sign with their arms raised in the air, all in hopes of getting an answer from California Academy of Sciences biologist Pamela Schaller about penguins.
“Why do they like to wiggle their tales,” one kindergarten student from San Francisco Day School asked.
Schaller, who was in the penguin exhibit using a microphone to answer giggled, “I like watching them wiggle too.”
Shaking excess water off is the main reason behind the wiggle. Learning that was one of the many things about 40 children had the chance to learn yesterday morning when the academy debuted “Pierre the Penguin, A True Story.” The tale, written by
“One day aquatic biologist Pam, observing the penguins, saw one in a jam,” Regan read aloud from the book. “Gently, gently, she examined Pierre. His feathers were gone. His bottom was bare.”
Pierre’s bare bum led to mocking from others in the colony. Schaller, with the help of a veterinarian, began testing out therapies but Pierre was still losing feathers. Noting that her dog wears a rain coat, Schaller asked about designing a wet suit for Pierre. It was the special wet suit — which now sits in a clear box left of the penguin exhibit at the academy — that allowed Pierre to regrow his feathers.
Regan, 60, heard the story of Pierre and his wet suit while visiting the academy. There was interest in turning the story into a book and Regan loved the idea.
“It’s a total gift to be able to do a story really about a
Creating the children’s book took some time. Aside from the writing, Regan worked for about one month planning her art work then seven doing the large paintings. She and the author were able to visit the penguins.
Regan took photos to work with and even returned to get different action shots of the penguins who would star in the book which officially went on sale yesterday.
The book was kind of like a gift to Pierre, since it finished on his birthday, Feb. 16.
Pierre seemed unfazed by his new-found publishing fame yesterday.
He and his girlfriend Homey, whom he started dating in 2006 three years after losing his long-time partner Ursula, hung out in their nest. The couple claimed the area under a rock in the upper left hand corner.
Those who visit in hopes of seeing Pierre should know he dons a blue band on his right wing. Don’t confuse him with his grandson, Dyer, who hangs in the same area wearing a blue wingband with a white stripe.
To view more of Laura Regan’s work visit www.LauraRegan.com. To learn more about Pierre or the California Academy of Sciences visit www.calacademy.org. “Pierre the Penguin” sells for $15.95.