Friday, September 28, 2012

Image of the Day

Dancing with Penguins by Atlas of Wonders
Dancing with Penguins, a photo by Atlas of Wonders on Flickr.
Atlas of Wonders

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Meet An Endangered Penguin

Meet An Endangered Penguin

In this week's Slice of New Orleans Vanessa Bolano goes on rare meet and greet with an endangered animal. It's an experience you can have for yourself beginning Friday at the Audubon Aquarium.
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas has launched a once-in-a-lifetime, interactive opportunity to have a close-up encounter with an endangered African Blackfooted penguin.

The intimate, hands-on experience grants you total behind the scenes access. It's all called “The Backstage Penguin Pass.”
The first stop brings you to the Food Prep Room where all the food for the animals in the aquarium are prepared. There are 32 penguins living at the aquarium that devour about 22lbs of fish a day!
Next stop brings you to a colorful room where you actually get to meet a penguin, learn about it, and ask questions.

“You can see he does have individual feathers and those are packed really tight. There are about 90 per square inch,” says David Brandt, “I'll show you how they get that name. Back here, on the bottom on their feet, are solid black. Everybody loves penguins and a lot of people don't know that they've become endangered, so this is another way to sort of enhance that and educate people and maybe get them involved.”
The Backstage Penguin Pass lasts about 90 minutes, and visitors also get to take home a penguin painting created during the experience.

The program is available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9am & 1:30pm starting Friday September 28.
The encounter is limited to 6 guests, 4 years of age and above. If you are interested you are encouraged to call and book your experience in advance.

For more information click here.


Images of the Day (2 Days)

Penguins return to safety

Penguins return to safety

The penguins were back in familiar territory yesterday - sent on their way by (L-R) Bryce Lawrence, volunteer wildlife rehabilitator Pam Turner and veterinarian Linda Hayes. Photo / Duncan Brown 
The penguins were back in familiar territory yesterday - sent on their way by (L-R) Bryce Lawrence, volunteer wildlife rehabilitator Pam Turner and veterinarian Linda Hayes. Photo / Duncan Brown

 Three penguins which found themselves smeared in diesel oil after a spill from a trawler in Napier's inner harbour are now happily back in the water - all clean as a little flippered whistle.

The trio were rescued after being spotted by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's oil spill response team who were called to deal with the fuel oil which had leaked from a moored trawler nearly three weeks ago.

They were transferred to Massey University's National Oiled Wildlife facility in Palmerston North for rehabilitation where they were cleaned and cared for.

Their keepers put them on a roster of swimming two to three times a day as part of the process to restore waterproofing to their feathers. The length of swims was increased each day, with the test for release being their ability to swim for six hours without getting wet feathers. All three birds passed this test on Monday.

The little flappers, looking spick and span, were returned to Napier yesterday morning

The penguins were transported from Massey University's facility early yesterday morning and were released back into the familiar waters of the inner harbour just after 11am.

The regional council's incident controller Bryce Lawrence said the penguins went straight to their burrows - which delighted the team.

"It is always good to see wildlife returned to their habitat," Mr Lawrence said.

"It was unfortunate that we had three oiled penguins but, given the conditions of this spill, we were fortunate that we could respond quickly and collect the diesel, and minimise the impact on the penguin population in the harbour."

The council's Enforcement Team will investigate the exact cause of the spill and will take appropriate action.

Penguin exhibit to close in Jacksonville, NC

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Less than a week remains before the penguins visiting the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores head to a new destination.

The Penguin Plunge exhibit featuring four African penguins closes Sunday, Sept. 30. The exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Feedings and information sessions are at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.   

The captive-bred African penguins have been at the aquarium since May, on loan from Six Flags in California. They go from here to a new permanent home at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

For more information, see or call  252-247-4003.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Penguin King 3D narrated by Sir David Attenborough

added: 26 Sep 2012 // by: Newsdesk 
From the producers of the BAFTA winning Flying Monsters 3D and filmed in spectacular 3D, join one King Penguin on his incredible adventure from awkward adolescence to fatherhood.

South Georgia - alone in a vast ocean. 900 miles from Antarctica, and a mere 100 miles long. A wild rugged landscape with mountain ranges, vast glaciers, windblown plains half buried beneath snow and ice.

Three years ago, the Penguin King left home. Now he is returning to the place where he was born and raised: Penguin City. One of the most densely-packed, sought-after pieces of real estate in the entire southern hemisphere and somehow he must establish his own place in it. He must find a mate.

What follows is a journey through the most challenging time of the Penguin King's life. His story is often comic, sometimes tragic, and ultimately triumphant: a rite of passage set on one of the earth’s last great wildernesses.

Narrated by
Sir David Attenborough

Produced by
Anthony Geffen, Slas Wilson


Pupils help create penguin facility

Justin Copson (11), of Arthur Street School in Dunedin, plants tussock at Pilots Beach, as part of work to restore blue penguin habitat. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Justin Copson (11), of Arthur Street School in Dunedin, plants tussock at Pilots Beach, as part of work to restore blue penguin habitat. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
School pupils are helping restore blue penguin habitat as part of the development of a viewing facility at Pilots Beach, Taiaroa Head, which is due to open next month.

Pupils from a variety of schools have been working hard weeding, digging holes and planting native plants at the beach as part of an Otago Peninsula Trust education programme funded by Kids Restore New Zealand Environmental Trust.

The work is part of the Pukekura Trust's restoration of the area and includes a walkway from Taiaroa Head down to the beach, which, by opening night on October 16, will be lit by red LED lights at twilight to guide people down to a 100-person viewing platform.

Blue Penguins Pukekura director of operations and wildlife Hoani Langsbury said information about the beach, the penguins and the area's heritage and culture would be placed at the top and at intervals down the walkway.
"It has taken two years' planning and work to get to this stage."

People would be guided to the platform after gathering at the albatross centre, where they could buy tickets ($20 for adults, $10 for children and $50 for families) and receive instruction, including on the importance of being quiet.

The platform, which would be lit by low intensity white light, also had access for the disabled.
"We should no longer have visitors charging around with torches," Mr Langsbury said.

The trust had a concession from the Department of Conservation that allowed it to run the tours from twilight for a couple of hours, but the public was free to visit the area before that.

The trust had nearly eradicated rabbits from the fenced beach area and had also, with the help of volunteers and school children, placed nesting boxes around the hills.

An area for recreational access to the beach was also being created.

The planting work had been funded by the Air New Zealand Environment Trust and there were 25,000 plants, mainly snow tussock and coprosmas, to be planted. Seventeen trailer loads of weeds had been removed.


Penguins safely returned home

Fuseworks Media
Penguins rescued from Napier’s Inner Harbour after a diesel spill earlier this month have been returned to their habitat.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s oil spill response team rescued the penguins after they were found covered in diesel fuel following the spill incident from a moored fishing boat on 7 September.

The three penguins were transferred to Massey University’s National Oiled Wildlife facility in Palmerston North for rehabilitation. The birds were cleaned and cared for at the facility and have since been swimming 2-3 times each day as part of the process to restore waterproofing to their feathers. The length of swims has increased each day. The test for release is swimming for six hours without getting wet feathers. All three birds passed this test on Monday.

The penguins were transported from Massey University’s facility this morning, before being released back into Napier’s Inner Harbour.

HBRC’s Incident Controller Bryce Lawrence says the penguins went straight to their burrows and the team is pleased to see the birds going home.

"It is always good to see wildlife returned to their habitat. It was unfortunate that we had three oiled penguins but, given the conditions of this spill, we were fortunate that we could respond quickly and collect the diesel, and minimise the impact on the penguin population in the Inner Harbour," said Mr Lawrence.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Enforcement Team is still investigating the exact cause of the spill to determine whether enforcement action is appropriate.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Image of the Day

Zoo Sends Penguins Off With A Party

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - All summer flings must come to an end and Topeka will have to part with its popular Penguin Plunge Exhibit next week.
The exhibit was on display at the Topeka Zoo all summer, but the travelling birds will return to their home at the Ohama zoo at the end of September.
Sarah Diehl took this Sunday to take her daughter, 10-month old Julia, to say bye bye to the birdies.
"When she gets there, she smiles and she'll clap her hands up and down, looking at them and giggling with the penguins," Diehl said.
The zoo gave its six African Penguins a proper send-off with free pony rides, a puppet show, and face paintings.
Diehl said its never too early to get humans to learn from the animal kingdom.
"I was actually coming to the Topeka Zoo when I was pregnant with her," Diehl said. "There's never a thing as too early. They always can learn and explore and look," she said.
"In Kansas, we don't have many penguins at all. So it's fun to see them and it's fun to show my little daughter something outside
our normal realm," she said.
Cousins Gordon Fineday and Shelby Bointy saw the exhibit for the first time and they say it beats watching TV.
"I think they're really cool because one swam really deep. And it was kind of awesome to see them do that," Shelby said.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This Week's Pencognito!

Please visit Jen and all the pengies here!

Image of the Day

Fiordland Crested Penguins by NZSam
Fiordland Crested Penguins, a photo by NZSam on Flickr.

Some major canoodling occurring

Rare penguin numbers rise

Fiordland Crested Penguins, of which this is an example, have been returning to Milford Sound in increasing numbers in recent weeks. Photo supplied.
Fiordland Crested Penguins, of which this is an example, have been returning to Milford Sound in increasing numbers in recent weeks. Photo supplied.
Visitors to Milford Sound have been treated to increased sightings of the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin over the past fortnight. Southern Discoveries nature guide Dave Newman said the numbers of the penguins, known as tawaki, were encouraging.

"There's more penguins this year than we saw last year, which is really positive for the colony and great for our guests as there are only up to 3000 breeding pairs in existence."

The penguins have been seen by tourists aboard the Encounter Nature Cruise as it comes close to the colony in Penguin Cove, where the penguins make their homes during the breeding season from July to November, and again between January and March to moult.

"We'll expect to see the penguins here until November when their chicks are ready to head out to sea," Mr Newman said.
"There's a real buzz when we first start seeing the penguins.

They're a very special bird as they're so rare. We're so lucky to be able to see them. New Zealand is visited by 13 of the world's 18 penguin species, and of those only three breed on the mainland.
"They come ashore and work their way into the thick rainforest, building nests ... and forming colonies of up to 10 pairs."


Stickybeak, Sydney’s celebrity Little Penguin, thrills all

Sunday 16 September 2012

From the foaming wake of a Sydney ferry a small, grey figure sails toward the suburban Manly beachfront, landing belly-first on a closely-guarded strip of sand.
Stickybeak the penguin stands, shakes himself free of water and — after a furtive glance at the tourists gathered to watch his twilight return to the city’s most famous bird nest — waddles off under the wharf to his brood.

“He’s got a mansion under there,” joked chief penguin warden Angelika Treichler, who stood guard behind a strip of safety cones and padlocked gates guaranteeing the bird free passage to his nest.
“He used to live next door, but now he’s taken over the whole area.”
Stickybeak, his partner Mrs.Silverwing and their two chicks are the last remaining Little Penguins living under the Manly wharf, a bustling area for commuters and tourists.

Also known as fairy penguins or blue penguins the Little Penguin — the smallest species of their kind — grow to just 33 centimeters (13 inches) tall and can live for up to 20 years.
There are another 60 or so breeding pairs living in the nearby North Head National Park, a rugged wildlife preserve where Sydney Harbor meets the Pacific Ocean, but Stickybeak is a thoroughly metropolitan bird.

He joins hundreds of commuters taking the evening ferry from the city’s bustling center back to the beach, slipping into its wake to cruise home.
Treichler, a retired schoolteacher from Germany, has been watching him since volunteer patrols of the beach began when the colony was declared endangered in 2002 and has recorded his many adventures in the wardens’ log book.

“He came up here once, up the steps, walked across the road and waddled into the Flamenco Club. Luckily one of the guests knew him, knew he lived here and put his jacket over him and carried him out,” she told AFP.
“He used to sit for hours there on the boardwalk and sing very loudly, and look up whether we were listening, and when I would call him he’d come running out from under the wharf and cluck back at me.”

Conservationists have worked hard to nurse penguin numbers back to health over the past decade, using sniffer dogs to hunt out foxes in the park and deploying wardens to educate locals about the dangers of dogs and garbage.
Ecologist Lisa O’Neill tags every penguin with a microchip once they’re old enough to leave the nest, and says only 10 percent typically survive the transition to the harbor, with predators always lurking and speedboat strikes common.

There have been concerted efforts to move the penguins out of more urban areas — some nest under residential homes around the harbor — but success has been mixed with the deeply territorial creatures.
Stickybeak and Mrs.Silverwing — his step-mother — were taken across to Store Beach in the national park in an attempt to resettle them after a stint in hospital but Treichler said they “came straight back here” to the wharf.

Their unorthodox romance blossomed in the rehabilitation unit of the city zoo, where Mrs.Silverwing was mourning the death of her husband and Stickybeak was recovering from a boat strike accident that had killed his own partner.
They are the last of five pairs that once lived under the wharf, and Little Penguin coordinator with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Melanie Tyas, said it was a double-edged sword.
“In some ways I think it’d be great if we had more penguins under here, but then on the other hand you’ve got that (factor of) — well it’s one or two, it’s so rare that it’s such a special experience to see them,” she said.

The birds hunt the length and breadth of Sydney Harbor, foraging for fish, squid and other marine animals, and O’Neill said it was rare to find a penguin colony on the mainland, let alone one in an urban area.
“It’s just spectacular, it’s an amazing privilege to have the birds so close to an area like this,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have so close to the city, we’re really lucky.”


Penguin imposter on Cleethorpes beach really took the biscuit

Friday, September 21, 2012
Profile image for Grimsby Telegraph
Grimsby Telegraph

A CLEETHORPES resident p-p-p picked up his camera and snapped what appeared to be a penguin on Cleethorpes beach.
Geoff Peck of Mill Place took a picture of this bird standing in the sand in the resort.
  1. IN A FLAP: The bird on Cleethorpes beach that people believed was a penguin.
    IN A FLAP: The bird on Cleethorpes beach that people believed was a penguin.
Its posture and colouring look uncannily like a penguin, which are usually found in Antartica along with other species on the south-western coast of Africa, Chile and Argentina, Falkland Islands, Peru and Galapagus Islands, Australia and New Zealand.

Penguins have never been spotted in the North Sea and the only breed living north of the equator is the Galapagos Penguin.

But Geoff and his wife Linda were 100 per cent certain of what they saw – especially after seeing it shoot off through the water.

They took photographs of the bird after their son, who was on the Kingsway at the time, told them a crowd of onlookers had gathered and were trying to figure out what it was. Some were also taking pictures.

Linda said: "We were 100 per cent convinced it was a penguin. It waddled like a penguin, it couldn't fly like a penguin and it took off through the water like a penguin. When it found the water's edge it literally fell in and took off like a missile being fired from a submarine. It was fantastic to watch.
"It was certainly no bird I have seen before. The only thing that threw me was when it sat down it looked like a duck, but I have never seen a duck swim like that. It was unbelievable."

But Linda and Geoff were left disappointed after a conservation programme in Devon confirmed it was nothing more than a common Guillemot – a bird often mistaken for a penguin.


Asa lays Calgary Zoo’s first penguin egg; but will it hatch?

King penguin Asa has laid the Calgary Zoo’s first egg, and has since been “showing all the right instincts,” said Dr. Malu Celli, area curator.

King penguin Asa has laid the Calgary Zoo’s first egg, and has since been “showing all the right instincts,” said Dr. Malu Celli, area curator.

The Calgary Zoo’s clan of tuxedo-clad birds could soon have a new addition.
Officials reported that Asa, a King penguin, laid the waddle’s first egg on Thursday.
Dr. Malu Celli, area curator, said excitement is being tempered as there’s a chance the egg may not be fertile.

Asa’s partner, Tut, is a “very young and inexperienced male,” Celli explained in a release.
But things look positive for Asa, who’s well-known for being a big splasher.
“Asa is showing all the right instincts, holding the egg on her feet under her brooding patch and periodically turning the egg,” Celli said.

Incubation could take more than two months, and zoo officials will keep a close eye on the egg during that time. Penguins are prone to stealing eggs or it could get dropped and crack.
Still, it’s a sign the penguins are exhibiting natural behaviour in their new home at the zoo. The $24.5-million facility held its grand opening last February.

“Even if this egg proves to be unsuccessful, it is a positive first,” Celli said. “We can be quite sure it won’t be the last egg laid at Penguin Plunge.”


Aquarium's backstage tour puts beloved New Orleans penguins in your lap

September 21, 2012
Getting up close with penguins no longer requires an expensive airline ticket to remote spots in the Southern hemisphere. In fact, the only travel hassles involve French Quarter traffic and parking near the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. That's where 32 diving, waddling, tuxedo-clad charmers are waiting for you to show up with a bucket of fish at feeding time.

Beginning Sept. 28, the aquarium will offer intimate, behind-the-scenes tours of the penguins' New Orleans habitat, how their food is prepared and other aspects of care.

Yes, these small-group affairs are pricey: A 90-minute tour costs $125 per person. But a Backstage Penguin Pass gives you access to some unique experiences. During a press preview, I perched amid the fake rocks and nesting areas that surround the birds' 4,000-gallon salt water pool. That's a big change from the usual joys of penguin watching at the aquarium. Instead of pressing my face to a glass wall, trying to catch the eye of a swimming bird, I found myself jostled by these highly social, knee-high creatures as they dipped their heads and shook their beaks in greeting. The birds are noisy, too: One variety, the African black-footed penguin, is sometimes called the "jackass" penguin.

I also got an earful from avian specialist Tom Dyer, a veteran aquarium staffer who helped save the penguins after Hurricane Katrina. (He flew with them in a cargo hold to the Monterey Aquarium in California.) A font of anecdotes, facts and bird lore, Dyer is one of two staffers who will lead the backstage tours.

"The real threat to these birds is environmental. Our African penguins have been on the endangered species list since 2010," Dyer said. "The wild population has diminished by 65 percent in 10 years, due to overfishing and current shifts triggered by global warming. The penguins' food source has moved, but these territorial animals keep coming back to their regular haunts expecting to find their familiar diet."

The aquarium is part of a broad effort to raise and breed both the African black-footed penguin and the less-threatened Rockhopper penguin in captivity. That's not an activity for casual animal lovers, Dyer said. To prevent the spread of avian illnesses, for example, Dyer never shares duties with zookeepers who care for parakeets and other outdoor birds at the aquarium. To monitor the health of his penguins, Dyer and a partner tally each bird's diet, fish-by-fish, at feeding time.

"Birds hide their illnesses by instinct. In the wild, that's a way to keep predators from picking on you," Dyer said. "What a bird can't hide from us is the loss of appetite that comes when one of them is sick."

Dyer is on a first-name basis with all of his charges -- each bird wears a name tag under its wing -- and visitors profit from that familiar relationship. As Dyer cradled one penguin, he let me ruffle its water-slicked feathers to show that the bird was dry and warm underneath.

"This tour isn't just an entertainment option," Dyer said. "I really think it will make people sit up and pay attention when they read about an oil spill or other problems affecting wild penguins. You won't skip to the next story, when you have had a penguin sitting in your lap."

Backstage Penguin Pass:

What: The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is offering an intimate, hands-on experience with penguins led by the birds' regular caregivers. Tours are limited to six guests, and age restrictions apply.
Where: Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
When: Backstage tours are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., beginning Sept. 28. Regular aquarium hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The penguins are fed daily at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Backstage admission: $125 per person (tour ticket includes admission to the aquarium). For details, go to


Friday, September 21, 2012

Image of the Day

Image of the Day

Philly's Adventure Aquarium to get revamp, including more penguins*450/092012_aquarium_saul_4.jpg
September 20, 2012|
Outside the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, visitors marveled at penguins waddling over the ground, then quietly slipping into the water. Nearby, seals glided effortlessly through another tank, surfacing to eat fish offered by trainers.

The typical routines - regularly seen by crowds at the exhibits - will give way to major changes over the next few years as the Camden waterfront attraction undergoes the most expensive renovation since its privatization in 2005.

Preliminary plans call for an expansive new penguin exhibit that will cost millions of dollars and double the size of the current Penguin Island, officials said. The move is expected to let the aquarium increase its penguin population from 19 to more than 30.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

KC Zoo completes fundraising, breaks ground for penguin exhibit

Posted on Wed, Sep. 19, 2012 

The fundraising has gone well, director says, and now construction work begins.

The Kansas City Zoo has met its fundraising goal for a penguin exhibit, and construction crews will begin demolishing buildings this week to make room for it.
“This is something we’ve dreamt about for a long, long time,” said zoo director Randy Wisthoff at a groundbreaking Wednesday. He had mentioned penguins when he arrived here in 2003 from the Omaha, Neb., zoo.

The Friends of the Zoo here announced Wednesday that the group had raised $4.1 million for the project, exceeding the goal of funding 25 percent of the construction costs for major projects with private donations. The rest will come from revenues from a sales tax approved last year by voters in Jackson and Clay counties.

The contract with the J.E. Dunn Construction Co. for the 17,600-square-foot exhibit is $12 million, and the total project cost is about $15 million.
The Kansas City Zoo has never had penguins. But by the end of next year it will boast one of the best exhibits of its kind in the country. It will have a 100,000-gallon pool of chilled water for cold-climate penguin species. Their indoor space will include a snow-making machine.

A separate, 25,000-gallon pool will have both indoor and outdoor areas for warmer-climate Humboldt penguins.
Three other aquariums will house coral reef fish, schooling fish and jellyfish.

The exhibit will be called the Helzberg Penguin Plaza after a major gift from Shirley and Barnett Helzberg in memory of the late Barnett C. Helzberg Sr.
The penguins’ home will be next to the zoo’s carousel, not far from the entrance to the animal park. It will be the latest major addition to the zoo in a decade that has also seen a polar bear exhibit, a revamped tropical building, a new zoo entrance and learning center, a shortcut path to the African exhibits and a sky ride.

Zoo officials are updating a master plan to reflect the dedicated revenue stream from the sales tax.
“We hope to invest more than $100 million in the zoo over the next 10 years,” said Bill Crandall, chairman of the Friends of the Zoo.


Image of the Day

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rose Bowl Parade will feature Penguin them float

Float soars with humor

Rose Float

Rose Float

The Rose Float Clubs of Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo came together to create “Tuxedo Air,” a penguin theme float that will debut Jan. 1, 2013 at the Rose Float Parade in Pasadena,


Photos: Penguin Paints Pottery For Annual Penguin Run/Walk Awards

African Penguin, Blue Blue, painted tiles at Get Fired Up in Pawcatuck. The tiles will be given as awards during the Sixth Annual Penguin Run/Walk. 


The painted tiles will be given as awards the top runners in eight age divisions at the Penguin Run/Walk.

SeaWorld releases information on penguin attraction

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin will give guests a penguin's perspective

Published On: Sep 18 2012
penguin empire
ORLANDO, Fla. - SeaWorld Orlando has launched a website dedicated to Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, a new attraction opening spring 2013, revealing information about the new addition.

The new attraction, a first-of-its-kind family ride, will let guests experience Antarctica through a penguins’ eyes and connect with a penguin colony above and below the water.

The website, launched Tuesday, includes a live "Penguin Cam" where viewers can observe penguins residing in SeaWorld San Diego. Visitors can also learn more about the icy continent of Antarctica and sign up for email updates.
The website also is host to "webisodes" from SeaWorld that will update fans with behind-the-scences video with designers and animal experts as the attraction is built. The first webisode provides the first sneak peek into the Making of Antarctica


Penguin paints pottery in Pawcatuck

Updated: Monday, 17 Sep 2012

STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) -- Penguins at Mystic Aquarium may be a lot more talented than you think. One penguin in particular was able to go to a Pawcatuck pottery studio to strut his stuff.
Blue Blue is putting more than just blue paint on some tiles. The five-year-old African penguin is a trained artist. Well at least he's trained to extend his feet so trainers can put paint on them for creations.

"It can take many years for some of the penguins to get to the point where we can do something like we did today," said Sarah Dunn, Mystic Aquarium.
The training is tough because penguins don't eat much so they are not motivated by food rewards. They just need to get used to people.

The ceramic tiles and vases the penguins paint will be given out as prizes during Mystic Aquarium's annual penguin walk/run in October, which raises money for research and conservation efforts for these endangered sea birds.
"I know that the ones wearing blue bracelets are a boy and the ones wearing pink bracelets are a girl," said Keira Poquette, of Westerly.

Poquette usually makes her own creations at 'Get Fired Up' in Pawcatuck. Monday Poquette learned from a master.
"And they all have to catch him because they didn't want him to fall off the table," said Poquette.
There was no disturbing the artist at work. After the master pieces were created Blue Blue then went around letting the kids touch him.

It was a moment many had been waiting for.
"Well he was so soft," said Poquette.
Each tile will be glazed and then put into a Kiln so all Blue Blue's hard work will be baked on permanently.

"Goes up to 1,800 degrees and once it cools down a bit we take it out," said Jen Gale, Get Fired Up. "Everything is food safe, microwave safe, if it is a dish."
A place where everyone is an artist, even the little guy dressed for a much more formal occasion.


Image of the Day

Emperor penguins with a visitor

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Image of the Day

 Rockhopper Penguins, Argentina. Click on image for wallpaper!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rare penguins star in show


Fiordland crested penguin
BIRD POWER: Visitors to Milford Sound with Southern Discoveries Encounter nature cruises are enjoying sightings of Fiordland crested penguins nesting.
Some of the world's rarest penguins are putting on a show for delighted visitors to Milford Sound.
Visitors and guides aboard Southern Discoveries' Encounter Nature Cruises have spotted the rare Fiordland crested penguin, or tawaki, this month.

Nature guide Dave Newman says he's thrilled to see the Fiordland crested penguins back in Milford Sound again for the nesting season and encouraged by the number of birds spotted.

"There's more penguins this year than we saw last year, which is really positive for the colony and great for our guests as there are only up to 3000 breeding pairs in existence," he says.

Visitors have a good chance of viewing the "wildlife show" over the coming months aboard an Encounter Nature Cruise as it comes close to the colony in Penguin Cove on its way to the entrance of Milford Sound. The aptly named cove is where the penguins live during the breeding season from July to November, and again between January and March to moult. "We'll expect to see the penguins here until November when their chicks are ready to head out to sea," says Newman.

"There's a real buzz when we first start seeing the penguins. They're a very special bird as they're so rare, we're so lucky to be able to see them. They come ashore and work their way into the thick rainforest, building nests in natural cases or hollowed out trees and forming colonies of up to 10 years."

Penguins seen from the cruises in Milford Sound are often on the exposed rocky shorelines inside the fiord or sometimes spotted on calm days swimming around on the surface of the water in small groups.

Cruisers were also seeing a lot of bottlenose dolphins around the boats.

"They love to play around the bows of our catamarans as well as our Encounter Nature Cruise boat, the Lady Bowen, or swim behind or beside the boats," he says.

A Southern Discoveries kayaking trip into Harrisons Cove is another great way to get really close to wildlife at water level.

“We see penguins and dolphins in this cove all the time and from your kayak you can see straight through the crystal clear water, even spotting starfish lying beneath you,” says Newman.


Plans for giant Antarctic marine sanctuary falter

Posted: Saturday, September 15, 2012

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Antarctica’s Ross Sea is often described as the most isolated and pristine ocean on Earth, a place where seals and penguins still rule the waves and humans are about as far away as they could be. But even there it has proven difficult, and maybe impossible, for nations to agree on how strongly to protect the environment.

The United States and New Zealand have spent two years trying to agree on an Alaska-sized marine sanctuary where fishing would be banned and scientists could study climate change. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took a strong interest in the outcome, regularly prodding diplomats, and New Zealand recently sent a delegation to Washington to reach a tentative deal.

That compromise, over a region that accounts for less than 2 percent of New Zealand’s fishing industry, flopped this month when senior New Zealand politicians rejected it behind closed doors.
The U.S. and New Zealand have now sent competing plans to the 25 countries that meet annually each October to decide the fate of Antarctica’s waters. Their inability to agree greatly increases the chances that nothing will get done.

Evan Bloom, director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, said the U.S. put a great deal of effort into its reserve proposal because it believes the Ross Sea is the best place on Earth for scientists to carry out studies away from the influence of mankind.

“If you can’t do it in Antarctica, where can you do it?” said Bloom.

Both countries advocated for marine sanctuaries. The differences between the two plans seem small on a map, but they center on the areas of the sea where marine life is most abundant.

The U.S. does not have fishing interests in the Ross Sea, though fish caught there often end up in high-end American restaurants, marketed as Chilean sea bass.

The species is actually an ugly creature called the Antarctic toothfish. Fishermen from New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and other nations have been catching them in the Ross Sea since the 1990s. They use lines that can stretch more than a mile to catch about 100,000 of them a year.

The U.S. aimed to reach an agreement with a nation that fishes the Ross Sea in hopes it would lead to a broader deal to protect marine habitats there.

New Zealand wanted to minimize disruption to its fisheries, but also wanted to burnish its conservation credentials. The country not only prides itself as an environmental leader, but it also makes money by marketing its clean, green image to trading partners and tourists. And it has criticized other nations’ environmental records at sea, particularly nations that allow whaling.
Clinton urged diplomats to craft a deal. When she visited the Cook Islands last month, she described the Ross Sea as “one of the last great marine wilderness areas on the planet” and said the U.S. was working with other countries, “in particular New Zealand,” to establish protected areas. Murray McCully, New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister, echoed her comments.

Late last month, senior New Zealand diplomat Gerard van Bohemen led a team to Washington that spent four days grinding out the details of a compromise. After he brought the proposal back to New Zealand’s ruling National Party, its senior Cabinet of lawmakers met in a closed session and rejected it.

Exactly why, they’re not saying. Van Bohemen and Cabinet minister Steven Joyce declined to give interviews.

McCully also declined to discuss what happened, although he said in an email that New Zealand will keep working closely with the Americans.

The Ross Sea fishery is small on a global scale, worth about $60 million per year. The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council says New Zealand’s Ross Sea catch accounts for just $16 million of a national industry worth over $1 billion.

But council spokesman Don Carson said New Zealand relies on dozens of species being fished in dozens of places. “None of them are huge, but they are very diverse, and we are keen not to lose any of them,” he said.

Carson said the Ross Sea is being fished conservatively and sustainably, so further restrictions are unnecessary.

“We fish in a very limited area for a very limited season,” he said. “We don’t want to be buffeted by the winds of popular sentiment when that sentiment is based on a misapprehension of what’s going on.”

Antarctic fishing is regulated by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the 25-nation group scheduled to meet next month. Its executive secretary, Andrew Wright, said fishing in the Ross Sea is carefully regulated with quota limits set each year, and that available science points to the fishery being sustainable.

Peter Young, a New Zealander who recently directed an environmental advocacy documentary on the sea titled “The Last Ocean,” said an international agreement that protects Antarctic land from exploitation should be extended to its seas.

“Almost every other ocean on earth has been impacted and affected by humanity,” he said. “We’re down to the last few places, and we’ve got to protect it and have something to hand on to future generations.”


Image of the Day

Fairy Penguin by WilliamBullimore
Fairy Penguin, a photo by WilliamBullimore on Flickr.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Image of the Day

Zoo To Celebrate Last Days of The Penguin Plunge

FROM THE TOPEKA ZOO -- If you haven't seen the African Penguins of Penguin Plunge at the Topeka Zoo, then you have just a few short weeks to do so. The Topeka Zoo has several upcoming events that are sure to get your tail feathers shaking!

Saturday, September 15th, is declared a Day Of Play At The Zoo for both visitors and the animals from 9:00am till 3:00 in the afternoon. Activities include a variety of inflatables for the kids and kids at heart to play on, giraffe feeding, and a watermelon lunch for the orangutans, elephants, hippos and more. During the day, the penguin zookeepers will be doing penguin keeper chats at 11:30 and 2:30 and penguin feeding at 10:00 and 3:00.

A "Penguin Send Off Party" will happen next Sunday, September 23, also from 9:00 to 3:00. From 9:00 to 1:00 the zoo will offer FREE pony rides. Penguin feedings and keeper chats will be be offered during the day and several of the zoos carnivores, including tigers, north American river otters, and bears, will be treated to fishcicles. At 10:00 a.m., guests can enjoy the ever popular Storytime with Kyler who will share stories and songs about animals at the zoo.

At 1:00 a puppet show presented by StoneLion Puppet Theatre will take place. The StoneLion puppeteers are Smithsonian Institute touring performers and will bring the magic of world class puppet shows right to the Topeka Zoo presenting their show "It's A Jungle Out There". The show is part of StoneLion's animal conservation series which has played since 1986 in zoos across the country.

The final event celebrating the penguins is ZOObilee. This annual fundraiser is the largest fundraiser for the year for Friends of the Topeka Zoo with this years theme being appropriately called "Party With The Penguins". The adults-only fundraiser features grazing stations, watering holes, live and silent auctions, animal encounters, and live entertainment. Tickets are $75 each and available by going to

"This has been a tremendous year and the addition of the penguins has increased zoo attendance significantly" said Brendan Wiley, Zoo Director. "But we know there are still people that have not had the opportunity to make it out to the zoo and these events really offer something for everyone".
Wiley encourages the community to come out and enjoy these final weeks at the zoo before the penguins leave. The Topeka Zoo is open daily from 9:00 to 5:00 with the last guest admission at 4:30. Zoo admission is $5.75 for adults, $4.75 for seniors, and $4.25 for children 3-12. Children 2 and under are free. As always, Friends of the Topeka Zoo members are FREE.