Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Image of the Day

Farewell, Happy Feet!

Happy Feet Goes Home

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Emergency operation for greedy penguin at seal sanctuary

A Humboldt penguin at the National Seal Sanctuary in Gweek had to be rushed to the vets after swallowing a hair grip which had fallen into her enclosure.
Two year old Lola, who is renowned for her greedy appetite, swallowing the grip which staff think, had fallen accidentally into her enclosure. Staff at the Sanctuary was alerted to a problem after Lola refused to eat her fish. An x ray at the vets uncovered a metal object in Lola’s stomach. Staff at the Sanctuary made the heart wrenching decision to allow vets to operate, despite the complicated procedure being risky. Tamara, head of the sanctuary’s animal care team, said: “We were desperately worried about Lola because we weren’t sure how she would cope without her penguin pool mates but she’s a confident and gregarious penguin which gave us confidence for a speedy recovery.
“If there was ever a bird that would survive this sort of operation, we knew it would be Lola.”
After a touch and go operation and an overnight stay at the vets, Lola returned to the sanctuary where she was kept in quarantine and received further treatment from the animal care team. Staff were delighted to see Lola reunited with her pool partners. Attraction manager Sarah said “Lola was ecstatic to be back with the other penguins. They all flapped their wings and brayed loudly.”


Little Penguin News

Penguin parents take off for feed

Little penguins at Phillip Island
One expert says the study has important ramifications for how we manage the breeding areas of penguins (Source: Phillip Island Nature Parks)
Little penguins have developed a strategy to help them survive parenthood: take regular breaks away from the kids.
That's the finding of a study of Australian little penguins, commonly called 'fairy penguins', which has found that long trips away from the nest help penguin parents recover from the demands of feeding a ravenous brood.
The joint Australian and French study led by PhD candidate Claire Saraux from the University of Strasbourg challenges previously held beliefs that inshore birds, which forage short distances from land, only take long trips away from the nest when conditions are bad.
The research found that after the first couple of weeks of chick-raising, little penguins (Eudyptula minor) alternate between two consecutive long trips, followed by several short daily trips.
This strategy is well known in offshore seabirds but virtually unknown in inshore birds the researchers report in their study, which is in press in the journal Ecology.
The alternating long-short trip pattern is repeated regardless of food availability, says Dr Andre Chiaradia study co-author and penguin biologist with Phillip Island Nature Parks, where the penguin colony is based.
"We found that even in a good or a bad season … they have this long trip strategy. They [take multiple short trips to] feed the chicks … then they go for a long trip to get feed for themselves," Chiaradia says.

Penguin tagging

The findings were based on continuous monitoring of 200 little penguins from the Phillip Island colony over eight years.
During egg incubation and the first two to three weeks of a chick's life, parent penguins take turns guarding the nest until the other parent returns.
After a couple of weeks, in the 'post guard period' both birds head out to sea to hunt and neither may return for up to 14 days, during which time the chicks starve.
To understand what happens during this breeding phase, the researchers monitored the microchipped penguins as they passed over weigh-in platforms embedded into their natural pathways on the way to and from their feeding trips.
While short trips yielded more food for the chicks, the long trips enabled the parents to regain weight so that they could continue the gruelling short trip feeding cycle.
The researchers believe this pattern is triggered by a loss in body mass.
"During short trips [penguin parents] are not feeding for themselves, if they are they're little because they have this amazing thing where they can change the pH of their stomach to slow down digestion," explains Chiaradia.
"So then they bring this food in and give to the chicks, but over time they start to lose body condition because they're not eating properly so at some stage they say 'okay, that's enough, I have to look after myself before I actually die'."
"So then they go for long trips … and feed for themselves. When they come back … they bring food for the chicks but much, much less than they would do in a day trip because they are actually digesting that food for themselves."
Chiaradia says the strategy balances the demands of raising chicks and parental survival.
"When you raise your offspring, you put in a lot of effort, but you need to take some time to look after yourself before you burn out."

Reducing threats

Dr Belinda Cannell from the Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research at Murdoch University studies little penguins in Western Australia.
Cannell, who was not involved in the current study, has previously tracked penguins in the incubation and guard phases.
She says the Phillip Island study has important ramifications for how we manage the breeding areas of penguins.
"I certainly knew that they could travel long distances during incubation, but these long and short term foraging trips during the post-guard phase mean that they could be potentially accessing areas that they are accessing during incubation as well," says Cannell.
"It means that we've got to manage potentially larger areas than what we thought were critical for the birds while they are raising their chicks … so there's a much greater need for reducing threats whether it's threats to their food abundance or threats from water craft injury or any other coastal development threats."
Cannell says she would like to see comparative studies between different colonies that have different resources and environmental conditions to see if the long-short trip pattern is replicated.
"It would be interesting to see whether those longer foraging trips are further afield or if they're just more days close by."



Penguins stop work at Manly Wharf

Excavation work under Many Wharf was stopped today.
Excavation work under Many Wharf was stopped today.

EXCAVATION work under Manly Wharf stopped this afternoon following concerns the digging could disturb the area’s endangered little penguin colony.
Manly Council staff and contractors had removed sand and begun stormwater works near the structure but the work was called off after volunteer penguin protectors advised council they had seen nests beneath the wharf.
The council’s deputy general manager, Stephen Clements, said staff were educated in identifying penguin nests and had not found any in the area.
“All of them have been trained and they know to stop work anyway,” he said.
“But we had concerns raised today and I thought it would be better if we stopped the work until we have a really good look.”
The Manly little penguin colony is the only breeding colony of the birds in mainland NSW and the Office of Environment and Heritage has listed it as in danger of becoming extinct.
It cites disturbance at nesting sites, attacks by dogs and foxes, and loss of habitat as the main reasons for the declining population, which stands at about 60 breeding pairs.
Mr Clements said council started the work after receiving an order from NSW Maritime, which owns the wharf, and to address problems of flooding in nearby Gilbert and Eustace streets during heavy rain.


New Zealand's penguin visitor starts journey home

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The wayward emperor penguin dubbed Happy Feet craned his head, flapped his flippers and seemed a little perturbed as he started his journey home to cooler southern waters Monday.

The penguin was moved from the Wellington Zoo, where staff has cared for him for the past two months to the research ship Tangaroa, which will release him after four days at sea at a latitude of 51 degrees south.
Happy Feet has been placed in a custom-made crate for the journey and will be kept cool with 60 buckets of ice. He'll be fed fish.

The Tangaroa is New Zealand's largest research vessel and was already scheduled to head into frigid southern waters to check on fish numbers in order to set fishing quotas.

The 3-foot-tall (meter-tall) penguin was found on a New Zealand beach June 20, far from his Antarctic feeding grounds. He was moved to the zoo after he became ill from eating sand that he likely mistook for snow. He's since regained weight and been cleared to be returned to the wild.

Lisa Argilla, a veterinarian who has helped nurse the penguin back to health, said he has a "stronger and stroppier attitude" than when he first arrived at the zoo, when his demeanor seemed flat and his feather condition was poor.

"He's definitely a survivor," she said.

He's also popular. Viewers have watched him eat, sleep and waddle on a zoo webcam. And he's been fitted with a GPS tracker so people can follow his progress online after he is released.

"He's brought a lot of hope and joy to people," said Karen Fifield, Wellington Zoo's chief executive. "His story has driven to the heart of what makes us human."

The boat's skipper Richard O'Driscoll said that once the Tangaroa has reached the drop-off point, he will likely cut the engines and then release the penguin from the deck into the sea using a makeshift canvas slide.
More than 1,700 people went to the zoo Sunday to bid goodbye to Happy Feet, who was visible in a glassed area while getting final medical checks. The zoo has covered the cost of his stay with about $28,000 in donations.

Argilla said she will miss Happy Feet but hopes it will be the last she sees of him. By next year, she said, he will be old enough to find a mate and breed.
Online: Follow Happy Feet's progress at http://www.niwa.co.nz or http://www.sirtrack.com

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Image of the Day

Haere Ra Happy Feet

Crowds of people are expected to farewell Happy Feet.

PENGUIN PARTY: Well-wishers will be wearing black and white to farewell Happy Feet on Sunday. ending in a poem about the penguin.
PENGUIN PARTY: Well-wishers will be wearing black and white to farewell Happy Feet on Sunday.

Crowds of people are expected to turn up to Wellington Zoo today to farewell Happy Feet, the emperor penguin who became world famous after washing up on a Kapiti Coast beach.
The farewell at the zoo comes a day before Happy Feet is due to begin his voyage home to Antarctica on Niwa's research vessel Tangaroa. Happy Feet, accompanied by the zoo's head vet Lisa Argilla, is scheduled to leave Wellington on the boat at 6pm.

The penguin, who has lived at Wellington Zoo since he was found on Peka Peka beach in June, would be released in the Southern Ocean four days into the ship's month-long trip to the Campbell Islands, 700km south of New Zealand.
As part of today's celebrations, called ''Haere Ra Happy Feet'', visitors have been encouraged to dress up in black and white and have the chance to sign a farewell card.
At 3pm Happy Feet will go under anaesthetic for the final time for a final health check and so a GPS tracking device can be attached to him.

Wellington Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker told NZPA Happy Feet was in good health for the trip and was expected to pass the final check up with flying colours.
She said today's event was a chance for people, including zoo staff, to say goodbye to the bird, which had captured everyone's imagination.
''We suspect it will be a big day, yesterday we had 1500 people come through the zoo, so we will probably have that many again,'' Ms Baker said.

On Wednesday, when there was a $5 entry fee, 2950 people visited the zoo, she said.
Ms Baker said that all up, including the voyage to Antarctica, the penguin had cost about $30,000 to look after, which had been covered by donations from the public, a $5000 donation from businessman Gareth Morgan and about $7500 which had so far been raised through a promotion from chip maker Bluebird.
Asked whether the zoo should have intervened when Happy Feet was found on the beach in June Ms Baker said: ''We are doing what we can to help him, and I think that's the right thing to do, we do that all the time with all sorts of animals.

 ''That's what we do here.''


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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Feet Update!

Stressed Happy Feet just the tip of iceberg

The term "penguin expert" has been fixed pretty steadily to the front of John Cockrem's name over the past two months.
Ever since Happy Feet arrived at Peka Peka Beach and began chomping on sand thinking it was snow, New Zealand and the rest of the world have listened to the associate professor's sage advice on how best to nurture the confused creature back from the brink of meltdown.

His seven trips to study the habits of emperor penguins in Antarctica certainly qualify him in that area.
It was his results on two separate trips to Antarctica in 2003 and 2004, where he studied the stress levels of emperor penguins, that produced the most "dramatic" results of his career, he says.
Dr Cockrem would take individual penguins and hold them in a one-square-metre metal pen. The birds would just sit there looking around, surrounded by other penguins displaying the same behaviour outside the fence, but the difference in their stress levels was dramatic, he says.

"With the bird in the pen, it was as if we had jumped on it and sat on it for half an hour – it was just as stressed. But you couldn't tell by looking at it.
"Even though its behaviour didn't show it, the penguin in the pen perceived that situation to be a threat. It couldn't choose to move away."

Dr Cockrem says people tend to look at animals and interpret what they are experiencing, based on our own "framework". But in fact, behaviour is no real indicator of how stressed an animal is.
In his 20 years of globe-trotting scientific expedition, Dr Cockrem has examined how stress affects quail in Japan, the exotic houbara bustard in Saudi Arabia, and even tiny sparrows in Sweden.

Next month, he will return to Japan to continue his studies of quail before heading to North America in mid-2012 at the request of the United States Navy, to look at whether its activities are making whales, dolphins and seals stressed.
"It has been suggested that naval activity, the sonar on their ships and submarines in particular, might lead to marine life beaching."



Emperor penguin prepares to head south

27 August 2011

Wellington is getting ready to farewell the wayward emperor penguin that washed up on a Kapiti Coast beach in June.

The bird, nicknamed Happy Feet, underwent a series of operations to pump sand and sticks from its stomach and restore its health.

Well-wishers have been asked to don black and white to say their last goodbyes at Wellington Zoo at 11am on Sunday.

Happy Feet will be anaesthetised and fitted with a GPS tracker for his journey back to the sub-Antarctic region aboard a NIWA research vessel on Monday.

He'll be released at the northernmost range for young emperor penguins.


This Week's Pencognito!


Please visit Jen and all the Pengies here!

They See Me Waddlin'

Image of the Day

Penguin family III by Aztlek
Penguin family III, a photo by Aztlek on Flickr.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dyan deNapoli: The great penguin rescue

 Dyan commented in her personal blog this morning:

"Hoping this translates into more donations for SANCCOB [which] saves seabirds and other penguin rescue groups. (Perhaps more people will read the book too. Fingers crossed...)"

Dyan, we do too!!!!  Keep up the excellent work, dear lady!!!

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"The Picassos of the penguin world"

They’re being called the “Picassos of the penguin world” because of their artistic abilities, which they illustrated, literally, in the Fox and Friends studio. The painting penguins visited from Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium to show off their art, the sale of which raises money to help their fellow African penguins, who are an endangered species.

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Mystic Aquarium preparing for hurricane

By Mystic Aquarium

MYSTIC, CT - With six outdoor exhibits housing a variety of animals, Mystic Aquarium is preparing for Hurricane Irene. As severe weather approaches, stingrays from the “Ray Touch Pool,” 30 African penguins from the “Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Pavilion” and hundreds of exotic birds from “Birds of the Outback” will be moved inside. Marine mammals, including sea lions, seals and beluga whales, will continue to remain outdoors in their secure habitats.

Husbandry staff will be on the premises around the clock to monitor animal safety, water levels and power sources. Mystic Aquarium is equipped with backup generators in the event of a power outage.

To further ensure animal safety, all items that are not securely grounded, such as umbrellas, exhibit canopies, trash and recycling receptacles, and kiosks, will be removed.

The public is encouraged to visit www.mysticaquarium.org or call 860.572.5955 for weather-related closures.


Wandering 'Happy Feet' penguin heading home after New Zealand jaunt

The wandering penguin nicknamed 'Happy Feet' after he was washed up in New Zealand is heading home to the Antarctic, Wellington Zoo has announced.

Wandering 'Happy Feet' Penguin Heading Home 'Happy Feet', the penguin found wandering on a New Zealand beach in June, is heading home (Picture: PA)
The Emperor penguin, an adult male and only the second of his kind ever recorded in New Zealand, will be shipped back to sub-antarctic waters on August 29.
Happy Feet was found wandering on Peka Peka Beach on the country's North Island in June, then taken to the zoo to recuperate after mistaking sand for snow and eating it.
Now, with a series of operations and a diet of 'fish milkshakes' behind him, he's back to a healthy enough state for the swim home.

According to Karen Fifield, chief executive at Wellington Zoo, the little creature will be shipped him back to the Southern Ocean on a scientific research vessel - the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's ship Tangaroa.
He'll be housed in a special crate designed to keep him 'cold and comfortable' during the journey, with trained staff on hand to look after him.

'This is an excellent result for everyone involved, and for the penguin, and is a great example of organisations working together for the best outcome,' Ms Fifield remarked.
Before he's released, Happy Feet will be fitted with a tracking device so scientists - and his many fans among the public - can keep an eye on his progress via the zoo's website.

Staff at Wellington Zoo are also planning to hold a farewell party for him, with guests invited to wear black and white as a special penguin homage.

Emperor penguins live in colonies - ranging in size from a few hundred to more than 20,000 pairs - in Antarctica.


Image of the Day

Mixed company

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Image of the Day

Baby penguin by Aztlek
Baby penguin, a photo by Aztlek on Flickr.

Shining a light on little penguins

24 Aug, 2011
GRANITE ISLAND - Little penguin numbers are barely scraping three digits, with their population dropping by 30 per cent on the same time last year.A total of 102 little penguins were counted in this year's annual census, compared to 146 at the same time last year. More than 1500 little penguins were recorded in 2001.
Penguin conservationist and researcher Natalie Gilbert said the result was expected to be down on last year, based on results from other surveys on the island and observations from the penguin tour guides.
She said it is hoped the penguin population will stabilise, but there is a possibility that the penguin colony on Granite Island may become extinct.

The exact reasons for their decline is still unclear, however it is thought some contributing factors may include New Zealand fur seals, habitat destruction, feral rats and cats on the island and climate change.
Penguin ecologist Annelise Wiebkin called for the birds to be listed as vulnerable in a report, tabled in June, because of the rate at which they had declined across the Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and Gulf St Vincent.
On a positive note, Ms Gilbert said the results showed pockets of active penguin burrows had strong numbers.
"The highest number of penguins co-exist in the areas with the highest density of tourists," she said.
"This is great to see that tourism is not impacting on the wild penguin numbers, and that tourism is being managed responsibly.

"Structures such as the boardwalks and viewing platforms overlooking penguin habitat are great protection from visitors for the penguins, and a pat on the back to the island's visitors.
"It is a measure of success that the tourist behaviour is very responsible as the penguins are successful in this location."
Ms Gilbert said tourists are not likely to be the reason for the birds' decline, as penguin numbers are dropping in areas where there is no tourism or little human activity, for example West Island, where the birds are "extremely close" to extinction.
The public's response to volunteer their time to help count the penguins on Granite Island had been really positive, with 85 volunteers on Monday, August 22, the second day of counting.
It was double the typical amount of volunteers, with 60 volunteers on Monday, August 15, the first day of counting also being a good number.

Among the volunteers in this year's count were students from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide, people who had taken little penguin tours, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Natural Resources Management staff and several metropolitan schools.
Ms Gilbert would like to thank the Granite Island Bistro and staff for providing hot soup and coffee to all the volunteers in this year's count.

Work and research in to the penguins is continuing with penguin ecologist Annelise Wiebkin and Ms Gilbert, together with several volunteers from schools, government departments and volunteer groups.
Activities include micro chipping, seal and rodent monitoring, 24-hour portable sensor cameras capturing activity around burrows, penguin mortality registers, penguin pathology and habitat and homesite constructions.


Penguin Pees On Brian Kilmeade's Shoe (VIDEO)

Brian Kilmeade
Brian Kilmeade got an unexpected gift from a penguin on Wednesday's "Fox and Friends."
The co-hosts of "Fox and Friends" were doing a segment on raising money for research on African penguins, an endangered species when one of the penguins just couldn't hold it any longer and relieved itself on Kilmeade's shoe.
Kilmeade exclaimed, "Oh geez. My brand new shoes!" But the host took the whole thing in stride as co-host Gretchen Carlson and the rest of the studio burst into laughter. He momentarily left the set, defiled shoe in hand, to change into a fresh pair.
He said, "That's the last time I have a penguin I have at my house!"

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Happy Feet poems flooding in

POETIC LICENSE: Readers can win a meeting with Happy Feet this weekend by sending in a poem about the penguin.
POETIC LICENSE: Readers can win a meeting with Happy Feet this weekend by sending in a poem about the penguin.

Celebrity penguin Happy Feet is bringing out the poetic streak in Wellingtonians.
The Dominion Post and Wellington Zoo are offering an exclusive chance for two readers to get up close and personal with Happy Feet before he leaves for the subantarctic on August 29.

To win, penguin fans must write and send us a poem about Happy Feet.

The meet Happy Feet competition closes this Thursday August 25 and we've had dozens of great entries already - from short and sweet haiku and rhyming tweets, to lamenting limericks and epic prose.
Here's some of our entries so far:
His name is Happy Feet
On the way from Antarctica
All he had to eat
Was sticks and sand.
He's got a saltwater pool
To keep him nice and cool
He was found on the Kapiti Coast
And he would rather eat fish than toast
He's Happy Feet!!!
 - Ruby Mackle, age 11
Happy Feet, you are so neat, we don't mind paying for you to eat!
Wellington all loved that Arctic chill, but for you, Happy Feet, it was the same ol' drill.
We hope you liked your stay here, so when you go, please take care.
You have to remember not to eat sand, 'cause if you eat too much, you mightn't stand!
Now go straight home and don't talk to strangers everyone knows the worlds full of dangers!!
<3 you Happy Feet!!
- Aliscia Sammons, age 15
Penguins know life
More than we ever will.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Image of the Day

MS Explorer6 by Carrot Cake Man
MS Explorer6, a photo by Carrot Cake Man on Flickr.

"Sure looks interesting."
"Wondered why I was staring so hard."

Happy Feet Update

Happy Feet caught checking himself out

Happy Feet
EYE CANDY: Wellington Zoo have placed the mirror in Happy Feet's enclosure for a little mental stimulation.
Happy Feet
NEW HOME: Experts are working on a custom made container to ensure Happy Feet is kept safe and cool for his trip to the subantarctic.
The world can't get enough of Happy Feet, and neither can he.
While staff prepare for the emperor penguin's trip back to the subantarctic, Happy Feet has been given a new toy to play with.
A new mirror was placed in his enclosure for mental stimulation and it seems the penguin is quite taken with himself.
Wellington Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said the mirror provided stimulation to Happy Feet now that he was well and active.
"He seems to be very interested in the 'other' penguin," Ms Baker said.
Meanwhile, the zoo is gearing up for Happy Feet's departure on August 29 when he will be released at 53 degrees south, the northern-most end of waters juvenile emperor penguins are known to inhabit.
Construction is under way on a special travel enclosure for the penguin to travel in when he sets sail.
He will board a Niwa research vessel but will travel in a custom-made container to ensure he is kept safe and cool.
Staff are constructing his travel container from the same material used to build containers for holding fish in fishing vessels.
It would be made large enough for him to stand up in, lift his beak up in, and turn around in.
However, his watchers on board would be able to decrease its size if conditions got rough.
Ms Baker said staff would miss him once he was gone.
"We're going to miss him but the best thing for us is being able to release animals back to the wild."



Last hurrah for Happy Feet

Aug 24 2011

The emperor penguin who became world famous when he washed up on a New Zealand beach in June will have his last hurrah this weekend.

The penguin dubbed "Happy Feet" will be shipped out to sea on Niwa's research vessel Tangaroa on August 29.
The penguin, who has lived at Wellington Zoo since he was found on Peka Peka beach, will be released in the Southern Ocean four days into the ship's month-long trip to the Campbell Islands, 700km south of New Zealand.
On Sunday, Wellington Zoo is hosting a "Haere Ra Happy Feet" day where visitors have the chance to sign a farewell card and are encouraged to dress up in black and white.
Before he leaves Happy Feet will go under anaesthetic for the final time so a GPS tracking device can be attached to him.


Watch: Cork penguin becomes YouTube sensation…

Image: Smemon87 / YouTube
IT’S THE STARDOM that every young penguin dreams of: almost 70,000 hits on YouTube and a feature spot on one of the web’s most popular meme sites.
But will it win the poor bird any friends?
A video of a lonely penguin at Fota Wildlife Park in Cork has become an internet sensation, garnering thousands of YouTube hits. The clip taken by blogger Sean McEntee shows feeding time at the park, when all the penguins scramble towards a golf buggy bringing their dinner except for one, which stands alone and- if it isn’t just our imagination – looks forlorn.
Fota Wildlife Park tweeted earlier today “One of our penguins has become a YouTube sensation”. The clip has also been picked up by meme site I Can Haz Cheezburger (who dubbed in some soft, slow piano music for extra effect).

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Feet touted as a 'natural' world cup mascot

Happy Feet, the emperor penguin who captured public attention.
MASCOT MATERIAL: Happy Feet, the emperor penguin who captured public attention.
He's wearing a black jersey, with no adidas stripes in sight, made an epic trip to be here, and has won hearts worldwide.
A natural for a Rugby World Cup mascot surely – and no embarrassing marketing madmen associated with him.
An online campaign to make New Zealand's highest profile and possibly most-beloved overstayer a Rugby World Cup ambassador has been launched.
However the people behind the light-hearted Facebook page "Make Happy Feet the Grassroots Ambassador for New Zealand" may not see their wish fulfilled, with the emperor penguin just given the all-clear to continue his journey to his Antarctic home.
He has spent more than a month recuperating at Wellington Zoo but after weeks of delighting hundreds of visitors, and with media keeping a watching brief on his progress, it is almost time to say goodbye.
The penguin is due to leave in a specially designed cage aboard a research vessel leaving on August 29.
The person credited with the idea to promote Happy Feet to official Rugby World Cup mascot seems to have been an 85-year-old named Jack – his idea born out of frustration with a number of high-profile campaigns from adidas and Telecom that have caused much embarrassment for New Zealand's reputation overseas.
The Facebook page has attracted almost 300 supporters, including Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, broadcaster Sean Plunket, media man Bill Ralston and right-wing blogger David Farrar. The creator of the page has written that Happy Feet is the "perfect symbol for what NZ is about – welcoming and all embracing hospitality".
"Happy Feet came to our shores, not feeling so great – we showed him kindness and hospitality and welcomed him with open arms.
"This is a marketing concept that will sell NZ in a positive way for the guest experience of NZ. How we pick you up off the beach, give you kindness and the best care, and send you off a happier penguin. He's a clean, green symbol of New Zealand and our people, our welcoming and friendly nature and our all embracing hospitality."
It seems the idea has caught the imagination of those on the page, with many comments left saying Happy Feet would make a better ambassador than some who have been chosen.
Dorothy Macedo said Happy Feet was "not a public embarrassment unlike some other world cup ambassadors". Judith Price wrote that he "certainly made a huge effort to get here on time and arrived suitably attired".


Image of the Day

Antarctica 1 by ScottDNelson
Antarctica 1, a photo by ScottDNelson on Flickr.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Penguins don't freeze, but they do get very, very cold

Cool and rested (Image: Peter Oxford/Nature Picture Library/Rex Features)
Cool and rested (Image: Peter Oxford/Nature Picture Library/Rex Features)
  • 19 August 2011
  • Magazine issue 2826. 
JUVENILE king penguins may huddle together not for warmth, but to get a good night's sleep. The penguins appear to be able to conserve energy when they need to by allowing their body temperature to drop.
Yves Handrich of the University of Strasbourg, France, and his colleagues inserted temperature sensors into several organs in 10 chicks in the Crozet Islands of the Southern Indian Ocean, then let them go about their daily lives for about seven months. They found that parts of their bodies dropped by up to 15.7 °C when they were inactive, local temperatures fell or when fed cold meals (Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1436).

The ability to survive despite large drops in body temperature - known as heterothermy - probably helps the penguins live through long winters. "Reducing body temperature even by one degree provides a considerable saving in energy expenditure," says penguin physiologist Lewis Halsey of Roehampton University in the UK.
Small mammals and birds can allow their body temperature to drop in this way, but it has never been seen in an animal this large. Until now, the largest known heterotherm was the buzzard, weighing up to 800 grams. Coming in at up to 10 kilograms, the king penguin chicks are enormous by comparison.
The huddles may help juveniles rest undisturbed and escape predators, says Handrich.

Competition: Meet Happy Feet

HOME SWEET HOME: Happy Feet has been living at Peka Peka beach since Monday.
ROSS GIBLIN/Dominion Post
HOME SWEET HOME: Happy Feet was found at Peka Peka beach.
READY FOR ACTION: Happy Feet has been recovering well at Wellington Zoo since being found ill on Peka Peka Beach.
KENT BLECHYNDEN/ The Dominion Post
READY FOR ACTION: Happy Feet has been recovering well at Wellington Zoo since being found ill on Peka Peka Beach.

Are you the biggest Happy Feet fan? Tell us about it and you could meet the famous penguin before he heads back home.

The Dominion Post is offering an exclusive prize to two lucky readers. Wellington Zoo has been overwhelmed with support and interest over their special guest, emperor penguin Happy Feet.
They'd love to be able to let everyone in to say goodbye before he leaves for the subantarctic next week but it won't be possible.
So we're giving two readers the chance to get up close and personal with the big bird himself. And each winner can bring a friend.
To enter the draw for this exclusive opportunity, write a poem about Happy Feet and send it to us by midday on Thursday August 25.
Send your Happy Feet poems, together with your name, age, address, and contact details, by email to capitalday@dompost.co.nz, or by snail mail to:
Happy Feet competition
c/o Capital Day
PO Box 3740
Wellington 6140

Terms and conditions:
One entry per person. The competition closes at 11am on Thursday August 25.
Entries must include your name, valid email address and daytime phone number.
Minors must have consent of a guardian and any winner under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Penguin viewing times are only available between Friday August 26 and Sunday August 28.
Transport and accommodation are not included in the prize.
Employees of The Dominion Post and Wellington Zoo are not eligible.
We hope you understand that no touching of Happy Feet is allowed, and you'll be able to be photographed with him for a maximum of ten minutes.


No penguins harmed in CSL parade, blood oath

Mark Hawthorne
August 20, 2011
ABC tv program Penguin Island. The world famous Little Penguins of Australia?s Phillip Island entertain half a million tourists a year with a sunset parade from the surf to their burrows. But behind the scenes, the penguins? lives are even more interesting. Penguin Island uses the latest underwater satellite tracking and Big Brother-style video surveillance to follow the lives of several penguin families who live in a colony where relationships are fraught and survival is tenuous. Over six half-hour episodes, Penguin Island follows the penguins as a dedicated team of rangers and scientists monitor and protect them through the hottest summer on record. Penguins: not a feature of CSL's laboratory.

BUSINESS ties between Australia and China have never been stronger, so it comes as little surprise to learn that pharmaceutical giant CSL recently hosted a business delegation from the world's most populous country.
Broadmeadows was the destination - far from the most salubrious of Melbourne suburbs, but the location of CSL's bioplasma facility, where Australian blood donations are used to produce 400,000 litres of plasma products every year.
CSL is planning to spend $250 million over the next four years to upgrade the laboratory so it can also produce Privigen, a treatment for people whose immune systems do not function properly.
Privigen is made at CSL's plant in Switzerland and is exported to the US, Europe and Asia. A soaring Swiss franc has forced the company to start manufacturing in Australia as well. With that story to sell, CSL picked up its Chinese guests from a Melbourne hotel, loaded them on a bus, and drove them to ''Broady''.
Everything was running smoothly, as the company explained to the enthusiastic group just how the men and women in lab coats turned blood into a range of therapies for export. Then, midway through the presentation, a couple who had been listening intently raised their hands to ask a question of their hosts.
''Penguins?'' asked the Asian gentleman, rather timidly.
CSL managing director Brian McNamee was, quite understandably, bemused - until he realised a couple of additional people had boarded the bus at the hotel. The couple were tourists, bound for the penguin parade at Phillip Island. If you read reports of cruelty to penguins, you'll know how the story started.


Image of the Day

I'm dirty!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Zealand Penguin Gets a Ticket Home

By Jim Andrews, Senior Meteorologist 
Aug 17, 2011
"Happy Feet" on Peka Peka Beach, New Zealand, on June 21, 2011. (AP Photo/N.Z. Herald, Mark Mitchell)
The Emperor penguin that turned up stranded on a New Zealand beach, far from his native range in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, has been scheduled to return south on a research ship.
Restored to health since the June stranding, the wayward bird, named "Happy Feet," will be shipped back to the Southern Ocean on Aug. 29, the UK's Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
The ship Tangaroa is slated to sail out of Wellington on a mission to carry out research on Southern Ocean Fisheries, according to the Telegraph.
Happy Feet will be freed near Campbell Island in waters which are within the normal feeding range of Emperor penguins. Hope is that the bird will then finish the last 1,250 miles of the long trek back to Antarctica, where Emperors have their breeding colonies.
A satellite tracking device will let scientists and the public follow his progress through the website of the New Zealand zoo involved in his care.
The zoo's executive chief director, Karen Fifield, that Happy Feet's specially designed crate would keep him "cold and comfortable," and that three people, including a vet, would be tasked with looking after him.
The 26-kg (57-lb) penguin somehow strayed the better part of a thousand miles from its customary feeding areas before ending up on a North Island, New Zealand, beach in June.
It is hard to say whether storms or abnormal currents played a part in his wanderings.
Reports at the time of the June incident suggested that the penguin's swallowing of sand from the New Zealand beach, necessitating a two-hour medical operation, was a normal reaction to thirst. In its native Antarctica, the Emperor penguin can simply scoop up snow to get fresh water.

(And special thanks to Rick for the heads up on this article!)

Image of the Day

Yellow Eyed Penguin by Connis and Arthur
Yellow Eyed Penguin, a photo by Connis and Arthur on Flickr.

Happy Feet to hitch ride home

Updated August 17, 2011 19:15:48
Happy Feet washed ashore Peka Peka Beach on the north island of New Zealand in June.
Happy Feet, the wayward emperor penguin that was discovered on a beach in New Zealand in June, will be shipped home on board a scientific research boat later this month.
The giant bird took a wrong turn and ended up on New Zealand's Peka Peka Beach after swimming 4,000 kilometres from Antarctica.
It was the first recorded sighting of an emperor penguin in New Zealand in more than 40 years.
Happy Feet has spent the past two months at Wellington Zoo, recovering from operations to remove sand and sticks from his stomach.
He will be housed in a specially designed travel crate designed to keep him cold and comfortable during the voyage.
Wellington Zoo chief executive Karen Fifield says Happy Feet will be released near Campbell Island, which is within the normal feeding range of Emperor penguins.
"He'll be on board for about four days and so once they are about four days out to sea, they'll be at about 53 degrees south which is the perfect point to release him," she said.
"I think we will all miss him. I think the world will miss him actually, but it's ready for him to go back and be an emperor penguin."


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Image of the Day

Penguin by imy18
Penguin, a photo by imy18 on Flickr.

More on Happy Feet

Ask the Times: Happy Feet, the penguin found stranded in New Zealand, is making progress

Times staff, wires
In Print: Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Feet is making progress
Do you have an update on what happened to the penguin that ended up in New Zealand?

Happy Feet, as the emperor penguin has been named, is at the Wellington Zoo, where he is gaining strength so he can be released into the ocean, the New Zealand Herald reported. The juvenile penguin was found June 20 on Peka Peka Beach, north of the capital city of Wellington, where he had been eating sand, sticks and rocks. Happy Feet had to have several procedures to remove the debris from his stomach.
"There are a lot of factors we need to consider just to keep him safe on the journey, so we just need to work through that and make sure we take him down south and have a successful release," Wellington Zoo veterinary science manager Lisa Argilla told the Herald. "We are not prepared to rush that, obviously — because if you rush it, it's going to go wrong."
It is believed Happy Feet swam nearly 2,000 miles from Antarctica to New Zealand. This is only the second recorded time that an emperor penguin has been found in New Zealand and the first since 1967, according to the Herald.
No time has been set for Happy Feet's release, though the Associated Press said it could come soon. Argilla will have to approve the schedule based on how much stress it would cause the penguin and transportation must be selected.
"It'd have to be a boat that can take the penguin that has some form of chilling on it, that can take the media, and that is licensed to go that far south," Department of Conservation biodiversity program manager Peter Simpson told the Herald.
Until he's released, Happy Feet can be seen on his own live webcam:
       3news.co.nz/Video/3NewsLiveStream/HappyFeetlivestream.aspx   (click on the arrow).
More than 100,000 people are following his movements already.
One woman wrote an e-mail saying she was ill but taking "a lot of comfort in simply watching the penguin," according to the Associated Press. "It's kind of like O. Henry's story The Leaf," wrote the woman, identified as Janet in Chicago. "I feel as long as the penguin does well, I'll do well."


Experts predict little penguin on brink of extinction

August 16, 2011
Volunteers have begun a count of little penguins on Granite Island off South Australia's Victor Harbor, but say they fear the total number may have further declined.
Conservationists expect a new census of the penguins to show the population is on the brink of being wiped out.
About 60 volunteers have counted penguin burrows on the popular tourist site today, with work to continue next week.
There were about 1,600 penguins there a decade ago but last year's census found just 146.
The cause of the decline remains unknown, with recent efforts to solve the mystery including the introduction of camera surveillance and micro-chipping.
Ecologist Annelise Wiebkin says the penguins have several natural predators.
"Some of the causes may be from terrestrial predators such as cats, foxes on the mainland, even dogs, rats, possibly also seals. Seals are a natural predator of little penguins. Habitat degradation may be causing them not to breed in certain areas," she said.
Conservationist Natalie Gilbert says it has not yet been proven that an increase in the number of New Zealand fur seals is behind the decline.
"Some colonies in South Australia have got seals close by - lots of them - and are doing fine. Others don't seem to have as many and seem to be suffering a lot more," she said.
In July, the local Natural Resources Management Board announced it would install nesting boxes and plant native trees to try to stop the decline.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Image of the Day

Trip: Tokyo, Japan 2008 by lapyan
Trip: Tokyo, Japan 2008, a photo by lapyan on Flickr.

Phillip Island wildlife rehab centre opens

Phillip Island's penguins now have a rehab centre to support them.
PHILLIP Island's little penguins are in safe hands with the official opening of the island's new wildlife rehabilitation centre.
Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the centre had the capacity to care for up to 1500 little penguins and other injured wildlife.

"The centre will provide an outstanding level of support for the Phillip Island little penguin colony and is a credit to the hard work of the local community and staff at the Phillip Island Nature Park," he said.
The penguin parade attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year and pumps more than $107 million into the Victorian economy.


Even Happy Feet doesn't like the cold

Happy Feet took advantage of the cold weather to take a swim in Wellington today.
Happy xs
TOO COLD: Even Happy Feet the emperor penguin wasn't too keen on staying in the pool for long when given the chance this morning.

Happy Feet took advantage of the cold weather to take a swim in Wellington today.
The emperor penguin gained worldwide fame after he was discovered on a Kapiti Coast beach in June.
Staff at Wellington Zoo let Happy Feet out at 10am this morning to take a dip in a saltwater pool.
A vet had to give him a nudge to get him into the water and he spent about 20 seconds swimming around before heading back to his enclosure.

Happy Feet also took at swim last month when cold weather hit the region.
Zoo staff said the swim was a chance for Happy Feet to get some exercise and test how waterproof his coat is.
The Conservation Department is planning to return him to the sea from a boat off the Bluff coast.
Happy Feet is the first known emperor penguin to swim the more than 3000 kilometres to New Zealand from Antarctica in 44 years.

He has been a popular drawcard at Wellington Zoo when hundreds of people have visited him.
At least $30,000 has been spent saving Happy Feet at a time when conservation budgets for safeguarding other wildlife are being slashed.
But the bird has provided priceless publicity for wildlife in general, says Forest and Bird.

video available at source

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Image of the Day

King's Gold by littlechay
King's Gold, a photo by littlechay on Flickr.

Granite Island penguins are on the brink of being wiped out

Little Penguin
Granite Island penguin centre manager Dorothy Longden with a Little Penguin. Picture: Brooke Whatnall Source: Sunday Mail (SA)
GRANITE Island's penguin population is on the brink of being wiped out.
The number of penguins at the popular tourist destination has dropped from 1548 to 146 in the past 10 years and researchers fear tomorrow's penguin census will reveal the trend is continuing.
But penguin experts who work on the island say culling seals, an idea raised this week over concerns for Kangaroo Island's disappearing penguin population, is not the answer.
Natalie Gilbert, who works in penguin management and conservation at Granite Island Nature Park, said investigations had begun to determine what was responsible for the decrease.
"We need to investigate all possibilities," Ms Gilbert told the Sunday Mail.
"We shouldn't be making such important decisions (on culling seals) without being completely knowledgeable on the subject. We haven't been able to pinpoint the problem."
City of Victor Harbor director of planning and regulatory services Graham Pathuis said council would wait for recommendations from the research before determining if they could help.
Mr Pathuis said council would have to look at shifting the direction of local tourism if the penguins disappeared all together from the island.
"It's a long-standing tourism activity associated with Granite Island," he said.
But he was confident if the species vanished from the area tourism would not be affected overall. "There might be a shift, with more of a focus on other things; we have a large variety of tourism attractions."
Ms Gilbert said work was already being done to address the declining penguin numbers, including research and improving the habitat on Granite Island to encourage breeding.

A program encouraging people to bring in any dead penguins they discovered for autopsy was proving useful and indicated disease was not responsible for deaths.
"Some carcasses show definite evidence of predators," Ms Gilbert said.
"There's nothing conclusive. There's no doubt seals are involved but to what extent?"
As well as seals, other potential threats included dogs and cats, rats and possums.
As part of the program to save the Granite Island penguins, motion sensor cameras have been set up on the island to capture footage of predators in the penguin colonies.

Penguins are also being tagged with microchips for future identification and a tag reader has been installed that records when the penguin goes to and from the sea. School children and volunteers recently made and installed 35 penguin nesting boxes.
Vegetation on the island is also closely monitored to ensure it meets the penguins' needs and Ms Gilbert said fish stocks did not appear to be a problem for the penguins. Penguin ecologist Annelise Wiebkin said while there was no denying seals were part of the problem, culling them was not the answer.

"If we started culling them we would have to keep that up at a huge rate and also they're a native species," Ms Wiebkin said. "And there's just not enough information to prove it's going to work."
Ms Wiebkin said the best way of dealing with the problem was managing things on the land.
"If land predators like cats, rats and dogs are an issue - which have been in other colonies in Australia - if we can address that and improve habitat, that might counteract things happening out at sea," she said.
She said some areas of Granite Island could be fenced off to protect the penguins from land predators.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

This Week's Pencognito!


Please click here to visit Jen and all the Pengies!

Step into penguin paradise at new Sea World exhibit

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by Sarah Forgany / KENS 5
Posted on August 12, 2011 

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- At a time when extreme heat and drought are consuming many parts of the world, there's a land far far south, where ice is life and life is scarce.
There you'll also find a rare and hidden beauty we know little about, simply because we can't live in that type of cold weather. But penguins, a small and resilient group of aquatic, flightless birds, thrive in the coldest place on earth.

There are 17 to 20 different species of penguins around the world, most of them native to the Southern Hemisphere. But you don't have to travel too far to get up close and personal with these neat birds.
At San Antonio's SeaWorld, park goers have been able to get a good look at the penguins for years -- but from behind a huge glass exhibit, separating people from the birds. Not anymore. A new one-of-a-kind penguin interactive experience is drawing visitors behind the scenes.

They can touch, carry, feed, and take pictures with the birds. I couldn't pass up on the opportunity! Just as I expected, my visit was incredible, unique and unforgettable.
San Antonio's SeaWorld is the ONLY SeaWorld in the country that now allows interaction with the penguins. At the exhibit, you'll find more than 200 of these feathery birds from four different species, including king, rockhopper, chinstrap and gentoo.

At first I was a little wary the birds would be hostile or aggressive, but the cute and cuddly birds turned out to be a lot more curious and friendly than I had imagined. One of them even climbed on my lap!
Supervisor Bob Flores has known these penguins for decades.
"It brings up a good point as far as conservation, not just these animals but all over the world," Said Flores, "We need to make sure that when you come in and see these animals, and once you see them up close and personal and you interact with them, then you get a better sense of what's incumbent upon us to take care of the environment as a whole."

Speaking of environment, as I mentioned before, penguins live in freezing temperatures. The exhibit was about 38 degrees with a wind chill factor of 27. As you can imagine, we were freezing. But before we walked in, Flores suited us up in jackets, pants and gloves.

"That's what most visitors can expect," he said. "We will provide the necessary clothing."
There are a few exceptions to entering. Visitors must be at least 8 years old and reservations must be made.
To get a glimpse of what the penguin interaction experience is like, check out the video link above.

For reservations: call (800) 700-7786 or visit the SeaWorld San Antonio website.