Monday, January 30, 2012

Image of the Day

Penguin Kiss by truubloo
Penguin Kiss, a photo by truubloo on Flickr.

Rare Penguins return to Milford Sound

Rare Penguins return to Milford Sound

30 January 2012
Rare Penguins return to Milford Sound
The Fiordland Crested Penguin (Tawaki) checks out the Milford Sound Wharf on a gorgeous day in the fiord.

The season’s first sighting of a rare Fiordland Crested Penguin or ‘Tawaki’ moulting took place yesterday afternoon as Southern Discoveries Kayak Guide Paul Park noticed a lone penguin near the Milford Sound Wharf.
The seabird looked to be taking in the view of the vessels at the wharf and marks the start of penguin moulting season that takes place every year from mid-January to early March.
Penguins are unusual in that they are one of the few bird species that moult all their feathers simultaneously. The moulting takes about two weeks and is very stressful to the birds - they cannot enter the sea during the moult because they have no waterproof, insulating coat. This means they do not feed and so lose up to half of their body weight during moulting. This leaves them highly vulnerable to predators at this time.
Douglas Keith, Southern Discoveries Milford Sound manager says the seabirds also visit in early spring when they come to the fiords for the nesting season, delighting visitors and nature guides aboard Encounter Cruises operated by Southern Discoveries.
“The Tawaki are an icon of Fiordland and one of the rarest penguins in the world. They come to moult at this time of year returning to the sea with new coats when they’re strong enough, then return to breed later in the year.
Close up view of the Tawaki

“They are a regular sight during the breeding season (July to November) but it’s always exciting for us to spot them and to know how rare and special they are. It’s always a highlight of our trips for visitors when we seem them in their natural environment.”
“Southern Discoveries Kayaking and Encounter Cruise offer fantastic experiences where people can get really close to nature. We’re very aware of our natural environment and work hard to make sure we gently view wildlife activity without disturbing it,” says Mr Keith.
Southern Discoveries is passionate about preserving Milford Sound’s beauty for future generations and works hard to ensure visitors leave with an understanding and respect for the wild environment. The company is also a key partner in a major Sinbad Sanctuary conservation project in Milford Sound for which it recently won an environment award.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Endangered Penguins Bond in San Francisco

Jake Richardson 

January 27, 2012

Endangered Penguins Bond in San Francisco 
Sinclair the African Penguin moved into a penguin colony at the California Academy of Sciences in December. She was born at the New England Aquarium in 1991, but moved to California from Oklahoma.  Bonding between Sinclair and a male African penguin has already taken place, and they may produce offspring. Below is an interview with the Academy about the African penguins.

What prompted Sinclair’s move from the Tulsa Zoo to your facility in San Francisco?

Sinclair’s transfer was recommended by the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) following its 2011 meeting. Zoos and aquariums around the country participate in the African Penguin SSP in an effort to maintain a healthy and genetically diverse captive population.

How did you choose potential candidates for Sinclair?

Sinclair was recommended by the SSP to pair up with Agulhas, a male already in the Academy’s colony.

How do you know the bond formed between Sinclair and new male is likely to be permanent?

When Sinclair arrived at the Academy in November, she and Agulhas spent a month alone together in a cozy space affectionately known as the “love shack,” where they began to show initial signs of forming a bond, including bowing and shaking their heads to one another. Now on exhibit with the rest of the colony, Agulhas is following Sinclair around routinely, but the pair are not yet fully bonded, and we may decide to give them some more alone time together to encourage the process. If their bond does solidify it is highly likely, given the highly monogamous nature of this species, that it will remain permanent.

Has she shown interest in other penguins?


Do the males help with rearing the chicks?

Males and females have an equal role.

How many other African Penguins are living in the same colony with Sinclair?

We currently have 16 penguins in our colony, including Sinclair.  Within the next few months, the Academy will be receiving an additional two females, again per an SSP recommendation, bringing our colony up to 18 penguins.

Is it likely she will spend the rest of her life in your San Francisco facility?

Yes, she should spend the rest of her life here at the Academy.

What kind of enrichment activities are provided for the penguins?

We are constantly changing the enrichment we provide for our colony, but examples include different sorts of materials they can collect for nesting material, toys, blowing bubbles, playing different music, or adding new animals to the exhibit like sea stars, urchins and abalone. However, because they are such social animals, the most meaningful enrichment probably comes from their changing interactions with each other and the people who care for them. We also provide environmental enrichment by, for example, fluctuating the temperature and photoperiod throughout the year to mimic changes they’d be experiencing in the wild.

If your penguin colony grows, might some of them be placed in other facilities?

Yes, it is highly likely that some of the offspring produced here at the Academy will be transferred to other facilities under the auspices of the SSP in the future.

Are African Penguins endangered?

Yes, in 2010 they were listed as Endangered by both US Fish & Wildlife as well as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

What is happening to those currently living in the wild, in terms of their population stability?

As reflected by their Endangered listing, their status in the wild is very unstable. Their numbers in the wild have declined by more than 90 percent from what they were at the turn of the last century and this decline has been particularly accelerated within the past few decades. There is a real possibility they will go extinct in the wild within our lifetime.

Image Credit: California Academy of Sciences

story source 

What's Gnu at the St. Louis Zoo?

At 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 26, when the temperature is below 50 degrees, the penguins will be on parade.

Penguins don't mind the snow.

Even when temperatures are chilly, penguins can be found taking a dip.
Parade of the Penguins

Through Feb. 26, the zoo’s penguins hold their own parade at 2 p.m. every Sunday when the air temperature is below 50˚F. On those days, the penguins are allowed to waddle in front of the outdoor bear enclosures, taking a path that leads back to their home at Penguin and Puffin Coast.

“So it’s really a way to bring folks out when it’s cold,” Westmoreland said.

This is the fifth year the penguins have been allowed to stroll the grounds.

“A lot of zoos do this, but it’s also one of the ways we show how much we care for animals, in that it gives them an opportunity to do something different and explore a new environment,” Westmoreland said. “It’s good for the penguins, it’s good for our visitors, and you never know what you’ll experience as this happens. So it’s a surprise each time.”


This Week's Pencognito!

Please join Jen and all the Pengies by clicking HERE

Image of the Day

Penguin Feet by Flotsammy
Penguin Feet, a photo by Flotsammy on Flickr.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Late winter leads to early arrival of five penguin chicks to Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse

Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012

 Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney introduced two of the five Humboldt Penguins recently born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and announced a contest to name one of them. 
Video by John Berry / The Post-Standard
Syracuse, NY -- The late arrival of winter to Syracuse apparently led to the early arrivals of five baby Humboldt penguins to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

The first of the five infants hatched Jan. 9, with brothers or sisters -- officials are not sure of their genders yet -- following on Jan. 13, 14, 15 and 17.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney helped zoo officials introduce the eldest and youngest chicks at a news conference at 10 a.m. at the zoo.

Mahoney, granted the privilege of naming the youngest, dubbed it "Cocotea" after a penguin colony in Peru. The bird is to be called Coco for short.

"Oh, my goodness," Mahoney cooed as she held the fuzzy gray baby against her blouse. She wore pink, Mahoney said, in hope the chick would prove to be a girl.

The hatchlings' gender can only be told through DNA testing. Zoo officials sent blood samples from the birds' eggs to a lab and expect to learn the result by the end of the week, zoo Director Ted Fox said.

The public will get a chance to name the eldest chick. Suggestions can be e-mailed to The top five suggestions will be put up for a vote on the zoo's website, www.rosamondgiffordzoo@org, between Feb 9 and Feb. 16. The winner will be announced Feb. 17.

 Cocotea the penguin, also known as "Coco."

Zoo staff will name the other three, spokeswoman Lorrell Walter said.

The extended warmth in the Syracuse area the past few months allowed the zoo's colony to hang out longer at the beach at the penguin exhibit, Fox said. That resulted in earlier-than-usual courtships. The result was hatchings in January, not the usual late March, he said.

The birds' growth has been explosive. Hatching from an egg the size of a large lime, the youngest bird has grown in nine days from a little more than 3 ounces to about 13.5 ounces. In two and a half weeks, the oldest chick has grown from the same birth weight to about 2 pounds, 6 ounces. Both are being fed fish regurgitated by their parents.

Their early arrival means they should be weaned and ready to join the colony this spring, officials said.


Image of the Day

Rockhopper washing by Derek Pettersson
Rockhopper washing, a photo by Derek Pettersson on Flickr.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Coronado's Very Own Penguin Trainer

Meet Liz Thaete - Coronado's Very Own Penguin Trainer at SeaWorld

Even though Coronado is famous for sunny weather, usually in the 70’s, Liz Thaete wakes up on work days and has to wear a pair of long underwear and a couple of pairs of socks to her 6:30am shift in the 40 degree penguin enclosure at Sea World.

Liz Thaete’s family was brought to Coronado by way of the Navy. She and her sisters were born here and have been through all the schools, sports and youth groups the island has to offer.  She graduated CHS in 2005. I was very excited to learn that we both had the same history teacher, Mr. Heaphy, while at Coronado High School.

Since Liz was little, she always had a keen interest for animals that her friends and family observed.  She has always known she wanted to work with animals no matter what. While growing up she volunteered at local animal shelters to try and get as much hands-on experience with animals as possible before applying for a job that had to deal with any sort of creatures.

She attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara and graduated in 2009.  During her summers away from college, Liz worked in the educational department at SeaWorld. Finally, when she was able to apply for a full-time job to work with any species of animals, she got the news she was going to be working with the penguins!

“It is not a glamorous job, but I love it” was Liz’s first reply when I asked her about what it is like to be a penguin trainer at SeaWorld. “Having penguin poop, scales, and the odor of fish on you all day,” she said, “is not pretty,” but she has grown to love the penguins who cuddle up to her legs when she is in the enclosure.

The young and high-energy penguin caretaker has a favorite flightless bird named Bart. He is an Emperor penguin, a species that can only be found in Antarctica, Japan, and San Diego’s SeaWorld. Bart uses loud and cacophonous sounds to communicate with Liz whenever she is working inside their freezing habitat to show that he cares for her.

At times Liz misses her “babies” if she is away from them for long periods of time. One may question, “Is it is dangerous to work with penguins?” The answer is yes. Liz says that there are always bruises on her legs from when the penguins get a little out of control and bite her, maybe even on her face at times. However, she says that she really enjoys being up close and personal with these personality-filled penguins.

Every work day is an adventure for her because there is no concrete routing the trainers follow, she tends to the present needs of the penguins and the penguin enclosure. One responsibility she has consists of jumping in the bone-chilling water of the enclosure to clean the glass through which all of us regulars see the penguins.  Another task she has is coating the habitat with a fresh layer of snow because the penguins tend to soil the white ice rather quickly with their lightening fast metabolism.
Although it is chick season at the penguin unit currently, and the penguins seem cute and cuddly, Liz warns us that they would not make good pets because they need constant care, attention and don’t necessarily have learning capabilities because they are birds and not mammals.

And for anyone who is interested in following in Liz’s footsteps studying biology, psychology and getting hands-on experience is her advice to becoming a penguin trainer.

Today, whenever Liz runs into people she knows in Coronado and tells them she is working with penguins at SeaWorld, they are happy to hear that in the end, she has a career doing something she has always been extremely passionate about.

During our interview, I asked Liz what her take was on all the new restaurants and businesses popping up and closing down on Orange Avenue and she answered, “It’s weirding me out!” Liz explained to me that every time she has left the island and come back, it seems like a different town! A perk in her opinion, about our ever-changing main street, is the new Village Theatre which she goes to when she is not catching up on sleep or rock climbing on her days off.


From left to right: Liz with several of the Emperors inside the polar unit, Liz working with several of the chicks from this breeding season, Liz in her galoshes in the enclosure.
Bianca Valle
Online Editorial Intern


Image of the Day

Source: Twitpic

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Frozen Planet...Moves Like Jagger

The Penguin that Knew Exactly Where He Was

Penguin defecates on state Senate floor

Posted: Jan 25, 2012
Legislative Session
Paula, an African blackfooted penguin from the Newport Aquarium, visited the state Capitol in Frankfort on Tuesday, Jan. 24. JOHN FLAVELL | ASSOCIATED PRESS

A penguin pooped Tuesday on the Senate floor near the desk of Senate President David Williams.
The penguin, from Newport Aquarium, was in the chamber as Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, presented Senate Resolution 92, a measure to honor the aquarium for its contributions to the "aquatic world in general through its stewardship of sea life and penguins."

Williams, presiding over the chamber, interrupted Stine to inform her that the penguin "just defecated on the floor." An aquarium employee placed the penguin on the upper part of Williams' desk after it did its official business and while Stine finished with her resolution.


Taking care of rambling penguins

Protecting Oamaru Harbour's blue penguins are volunteers (from left) Judy Stevenson, Shirley Keen, Julie Everson and Bruce Boxall. Photo by David Bruce.
Protecting Oamaru Harbour's blue penguins are volunteers (from left) Judy Stevenson, Shirley Keen, Julie Everson and Bruce Boxall. Photo by David Bruce.
Blue penguins at Oamaru Harbour have four new advocates - volunteers looking after their welfare and ensuring visitors do not disrupt the birds' nesting patterns. The volunteer scheme was set up last year by the Waitaki Tourism Association and those who turned out, up to four nights a week depending on demand, were doing a great job, association executive member Carol Scott said yesterday.
However, more volunteers were still needed.
The decision to set up the volunteer group followed comments about the increasing numbers of visitors to the harbour and the effect they were having on blue penguins.
The penguins nest all around the harbour and people and traffic posed a danger when the birds returned from sea to their nests at dusk. Visitors, not understanding how things such as flash photography could disrupt the penguins, were also causing problems.
The advocates, wearing reflective vests, patrolled the harbour area, stopping traffic to let penguins cross and informing visitors on foot how to behave.
Most visitors appreciated the information and followed instructions not to photograph or disrupt the penguins' paths.
The advocates also encouraged people to visit the penguin colony to see and learn more about the birds, she said.
The Department of Conservation trained the advocates and visited regularly to follow what they were doing when they were on duty. The advocates had become very protective of the penguins and active in ensuring their welfare, she said.


Image of the Day

The Curious Penguin by zekeafroid
The Curious Penguin, a photo by zekeafroid on Flickr.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Can't talk now--I'm off to work the creche

Dubai facility gets ready to host snow penguins

Artificial 25-storey freezing ski hills will have a colony of Antarctic birds year-round in a specially-created area

  • By Derek Baldwin, Chief Reporter
  • January 24, 2012
  • Gulf News
A colony of snow penguins get acquainted with the environment at Ski Dubai
  • Image Credit: Photo courtesy: Ski Dubai
  • A colony of snow penguins get acquainted with the environment at Ski Dubai. The seafaring birds are part of what Ski Dubai said is a “multi-generation breeding programme at Sea World” and were born and bred in captivity.
Dubai: Snow penguins now living permanently at Ski Dubai's 25-storey snow-covered wonderland don't usually give interviews to the media.

But at month's end, Dubai's newest stars will meet the press in a media briefing before the mountain-themed ski hill opens its newest attraction, Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai, to the world sometime in February.

To be housed year-round in the 22,500 square-metre facility chilled to a constant -1 degree C to -2C and covered with snow, the colony of penguins "will live in a specially created environment which mirrors the Antarctica", Ski Dubai said in a statement.

Exciting attraction
The seafaring birds are part of what Ski Dubai said is a "multi-generation breeding programme at Sea World" and were born and bred in captivity.

Organisers billed the environmental awareness project as "the world's first exciting attraction of its kind" and pledged that patrons young and old will be offered a rare chance to see penguins in their new environment. "Visitors will soon have a rare opportunity to interact with these remarkable birds in a one-of-a-kind intimate encounter and learn about their unique traits and habits. Mall of the Emirates visitors will also be able to enjoy viewing the snow penguin's natural antics during the grand presentation of the ‘March of the Penguins', starting in February 2012," the ski resort said.


African Penguin Exhibit At Baltimore Zoo Draws Crowds

January 22, 2012


Carroll County Times

BALTIMORE (AP) — The 52 African penguins at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore will chew on shoe laces, hide underneath rocks and skirmish among themselves.
They are a curious, stubborn, squawking lot. The keepers at their Rock Island habitat, the zoo’s penguin exhibit since 1967, have their hands full. Always.
“This is kind of like having a day care with a bunch of 3-year-old kids sometimes,” said Jen Kottyan, the high-energy manager charged with their care.

Yet it’s those same quirks that have allowed the waddling, attention-craving penguins to endear themselves to their human keepers. Their antics during public feedings draw a crowd no matter the time of year, including in the winter months when the Maryland Zoo was previously closed to visitors.
The zoo is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays through Mondays in January and February for the second consecutive year.

A few of the species, including some African birds and tortoises, are kept indoors during teeth-chattering, cold winter days. But most of the zoo’s more than 2,500 animals deal with frigid weather just fine.
The African penguins seem right at home. The species is native to the rocky coastline of South Africa and Namibia and its temperate climate. Only a few penguin species live as far south as Antarctica in the wild.
The zoo’s penguins are free to meander about outside as long as their 250,000-gallon moat is not completely frozen over. If it gets too chilly even for them, they can retreat to a heated indoor sanctuary.

When the domesticated penguins spot caretakers and visitors inside their habitat, many of them wander over. And that’s when the fun starts.
Depending on their moods, the penguins will peck at pant legs, surround their human counterparts or jostle with each other. If one of their human handlers omits a yell that sounds like a braying donkey, the penguins will mimic it.

The high-pitched squawk is the reason why the African penguins are nicknamed the jackass breed.
“We don’t like to call them that,” Kottyan said, “but the kids get a kick out of it.”
During a public feeding Friday, the penguins gathered while caretakers flung herring, capelin and squid at the group. The penguins each eat about a pound of fish each day. Their human overseers closely track how much each penguin in the group eats.

Two of the zoo’s four penguin chicks were brought outside for the public feeding. Four penguin chicks have been successfully bred there in recent months, Kottyan said, with the most recent one born on Christmas Day.
The Maryland Zoo has raised more than 800 chicks and plays a role in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan. The zoo has raised chicks that are now on display throughout the country at other exhibits.
The Maryland Zoo has the largest collection of African penguins in the U.S.

The African penguins are threatened due to overfishing and frequent oil slicks in their home habitats, which happen to be near busy shipping routes for crude.
“If they get coated with oil, they want to clean themselves and wind up ingesting it,” Kottyan said.
The plight of the penguin was featured in major motion pictures “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet” in the last decade.
Kottyan said zoo visitors took notice.

“We hear the comments even still when we are out in the public feeding that our penguins don’t look like the ones from ‘March of the Penguins,”‘ she said.
That’s because they are a completely different breed. “March of the Penguins” followed a colony of Emperor penguins in Antarctica. The 2-feet-tall African penguins are roughly half the size of their
Emperor counterparts.

Regardless, Kottyan said the movies sparked an interest in their plight. African penguins are considered endangered by The International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The penguin exhibit is among the most popular at the zoo, staffers said. A few times each year, the zoo holds Breakfast with the Penguins programs. This year’s programs are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. April 14, July 6-7 and Sept. 8.
“They sell out every single time,” Kottyan said.

During the events, visitors have the opportunity to eat breakfast, feed the penguins and learn more about their behavior. They discover what their caretakers have known for so long: The tiny penguins can be rambunctious, loving, inquisitive and maddening all at once.
“Working with these guys,” keeper Betty Dipple said, “prepares you for motherhood.”


Image of the Day

Galapagos Penguin by nicnac1000
Galapagos Penguin, a photo by nicnac1000 on Flickr.

Happy pengie

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Image of the Day

Penguin Beak by vladsinayuk
Penguin Beak, a photo by vladsinayuk on Flickr.

Climate Change-Penguins Confirm Concept from the Ends of the Earth

By Bill Henry

Posted 1 day ago
Penguins as far as the horizon, icebergs calving, humpbacked and orca whales, an active volcano.
These are highlights of a 10-day Antarctic expedition over the Christmas break, in which Owen Sound student Laurissa Christie was among 60 Students on Ice.

The excursion — her second trip to a polar region — confirmed what Christie saw in the Canadian Arctic 18 months ago and reaffirmed plans to pursue science at university in environmental studies, with a focus on the polar regions.
Signs of climate change are more obvious in the Canadian north, where Christie saw vast areas of land that were covered in glaciers until recent years.

That impact is harder to assess in Antarctica, which remains a pristine, untouched landscape, inhabited by a small number of researchers studying the outer edges of a “huge continent full of ice.”
“We saw basically everything that Antarctica has to offer and we really — as cliche as it sounds — the scary part for me is that we only saw the tip of the iceberg,” Christie said this week. “I think what I realized about that environment is how precious it is and how we really do need to protect it.”

Seeing the polar regions convinced her how great and far reaching are the consequences of individual actions and how behaviour has to change.
“I think I learned that every action really does make a difference,” she said. “That message for me is to care and learn as much about the environment as possible and by doing that spread awareness.”
That’s a message she’s taking to school classrooms, community groups and the regional science fair. It was her gold medal science fair project in 2009 that earned her the trip to the Arctic with Students on Ice and planted the desire to follow up with a trip to the Antarctic.

Christie brought back new, firm friendships with students from across Canada, the U.S., and several other countries, along with about 5,000 photographs. Her favourite shows a single Adelie penguin floating on ice in a clear blue water with a frozen ice wall as a backdrop.
Visitors are supposed to stay five metres from the penguins, but as the students crouched among one of Antarctica’s largest colonies at the Danger Islands, the curious creatures wandered within reach.
“We just all spread out and were really quiet,” she said. “I was just pretty much in awe.”

Later, some students hiked to the top of Paulette Island, an active volcano. From there, the penguins were massed as far as the eye could see.
“There were just millions upon millions of them.”
The expedition staff of 30 included glaciologists, biologists and other researchers, as well as physicians, a musician, a visual artist, journalists, a film crew and other. Students helped with some of the research, including bird counts, studying penguin behaviour, measuring and collecting snow and ice data and collecting ocean plankton samples which will help understand the impact of climate change.

Scientists also want to learn how warmer water is affecting populations of krill — a small, shrimp-like crustacean that lives in very cold water and is eaten by whales.
While it was summer in Antarctica, the “chilly” weather ranged between about -10 C and 3 C.
Christie said she is still processing what she learned about herself and the planet, which boils down to a new, greater appreciation of her own environment and a renewed urge to “get outside.”

“We live in one of the coolest places in the world. We have the Bruce Peninsula. We have so much life and so much all around us that we really do need to learn about what is in our backyard before we can help the world,” she said. “With climate change, we never know what can happen, so let’s just appreciate it.”


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Turtle Back Zoo's Penguins Featured on CBS

Penguins paint during Penguin Awareness Day for CBS New York

Two of Turtle Back Zoo's own penguins were waddling through the CBS New York studio today in a special segment celebrating Penguin Awareness Day.

The two penguins, though, are apparently painters, too.

Under the direction of Dr. Jeremy Goodman, director at Turtle Back Zoo, the African black-footed penguins dipped their feet in paint and trudged across white paper, leaving behind colorful footprint art.

Goodman told CBS's John Elliot that the painting is part of the enrichment program at the zoo. "They like the feel of the paint and some of the colors of the paint," he said. The penguin's paintings are then auctioned off to raise money for the conservation fund.

Penguins were recently classified as endangered species.

Goodman also demystified some misconceptions about the animals and said that penguins are not actually all from the cold weather. African penguins, also known as jackass penguins because they bray like donkeys, are from the coast of Africa. Many penguins also come form warm weather climates, Goodman told Elliot.
To watch the CBS segment, click here.


Sydney Aquarium welcomes baby penguins