Sunday, October 13, 2013

Penguins in the Northern Hemisphere? Nope. No way.

By Marilyn vos Savant

John Leonard of Wilmington, N.C., asks:
Penguins live only in the ­Southern Hemisphere. Would they thrive if they were ­introduced to the Northern Hemisphere?

Marilyn responds:
No. The subject is being discussed more often because global warming is threatening penguin environments. However, moving a colony to another location would cause its members far more problems than they might possibly escape. Penguin species live in varied climates, but all are sensitive to changes in air and ocean temperature, both with respect to their everyday health and the availability of the kind of food they need. Also, when their ­habitats are changed, they often decline to mate.

The biological circumstances of penguins are just as limiting. They are birds, but they are flightless and ungainly on land, where they must nest, so they and their young are vulnerable to predation. In the Antarctic ­regions, penguin environments have few predators, but the Arctic has bears, wolves, ­foxes, and more.

Regardless, human encroachment on penguin environments began long before global ­warming was even suspected, and ­various groups have already tried to introduce the beloved birds to new territories. All the experiments ended in dismal failure.


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