Monday, 30 January 2012 Press Release: Southern Discoveries
Rare Penguins return to Milford Sound
Fiordland Crested Penguin (Tawaki) checks out the Milford
Sound Wharf on a gorgeous day in the
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.
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
“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
Close up view of
“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
“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
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
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
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
Even when temperatures are chilly, penguins can be found taking a dip.
Saint Louis Zoo
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
“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
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
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
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
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
John Berry / The Post-StandardCocotea 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.
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
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
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
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 eCoronado.com
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.
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."
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.
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'
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.
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
Image Credit: Photo courtesy: Ski Dubai
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
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
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.
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.
BALTIMORE (AP) — The 52 African penguins at The Maryland Zoo in
Baltimore will chew on shoe laces, hide underneath rocks and skirmish
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
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
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
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.”
Penguins as far as the horizon, icebergs calving, humpbacked and orca whales, an active volcano.
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.
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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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
Penguins paint during Penguin Awareness Day for CBS New York
January 20, 2012
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.
The Penguin Camera is located on Torgersen Island (64°46’S, 64°04’W), off the coast of Anvers Island and less than a mile from Palmer Station. Torgersen Island is home to a colony of Adélie penguins numbering approximately 2,500. This camera is seasonal and operates primarily from October to February, the Adélie breeding season. The camera is solar-powered and may sometimes experience brief outages due to inclement weather. School classrooms and other educational demonstrations will often take control of the camera, moving it to gain better views of the colony.
A lifelong student and confirmed polymath, I am currently writing my 2nd book this spring. I have an AS in Biology, a BA and an MA in English, plus I began a degree in Geology while living in CA. I am a retired herpetologist, but my blogs and current interests strive to promote animal conservation, particularly Penguins,Wolves, and Big Cats. I live with the loves of my life, Sissy, a Chihuahua, and Joey, Alero, Jillian, Loki, Jadin, Perse, Socks and Siggy - my ThunderCats - who help me cope with narcolepsy.