Friday, April 29, 2016

Baby Penguins Make Splash in Dallas Zoo Debut

Posted: Apr 28, 2016
Robert Wheeler

Dallas, TX -- It was the march of the penguins Wednesday morning at the Dallas Zoo.
"Today, we actually celebrated the first swim for our two penguin chicks. They're about three months old, and we just put them out in the pool. Mom and dad came out for a little bit along with the older sister," said Sprina Liu, Curator of Births at the Dallas Zoo.
That's right, the new additions are taking their first penguin plunge.
"They did great. Their first drop in the water was a little bit ungraceful, but they quickly learned, got in and out of the pool pretty quickly, so we're pretty happy with how they did," Liu said.
Once these chicks got in the water, they didn't waste time, but this was a test run to see how they'll do when they're introduced to the rest of the penguin posse.
"That's going to happen in the next week or so. We're going to let them out in the exhibit in the morning, let them get in and out of the pool. Make sure they're comfortable getting in and out okay, and then introduce them to the rest of the group," Liu said.
In the meantime, this crowd will have a chance to see these guys swim around.


Humboldt penguin chicks hatch at north Wales zoo

Three Humboldt penguin chicks - classed as an endangered species - have hatched at a north Wales zoo. The Humboldt breeds in coastal Chile and Peru, but numbers have been declining, with only 7,000-10,000 estimated to be left in the wild. New chicks Wellington, Mack and Poncho recently hatched at The Welsh Mountain Zoo in Conwy, where keepers say they are growing fast.
Humboldt penguin chick
Three Humboldt penguin chicks have been born at the Welsh Mountain Zoo, which has reared penguins for years. Credit: The Welsh Mountain Zoo

Luckily our breeding pairs are now very experienced and we do not need to intervene by hand-rearing. We do not interfere. All we do is offer food to the parent in the burrow, who is incubating the eggs three times a day, and when the chick hatches we take a 'hatch weight' which is around 65-80 grams.
When they are around two years old, they will go off to join a different collection where they will hopefully find their life partner, as Humboldt penguins are monogamous.
– Michelle Pywell, Head Keeper


Thursday, April 28, 2016

NZ has the world's best banknote

The first conqueror of Mount Everest, the creator of Pippi Longstocking and Crimean landmarks appear on 2015's most attractive currency bills.
New Zealand's five-dollar note, which features Mount Everest's first conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, has been adjudged as the world's best banknote for 2015 by the International Bank Note Society.
The Society, a nonprofit educational organisation which has more than 20,000 members in close to 100 countries, picked the banknote sanctioned by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as a "clear winner" from among three dozen nominees.

The notes are assessed for “artistic merit and/or innovative security features”, including use of colour, contrast and balance.

The orange and brown $5 note displays a map of New Zealand in a polymer window as well as numerous upgraded security features.

In addition to Hillary, who passed away in 2008, the face features South Island’s Mount Cook and a colour-changing yellow-eyed penguin. The back design also features this rare penguin unique to New Zealand, as well as local flora.
Almost 150 new banknotes were released worldwide in 2015. The Society narrowed down the nominees to 20 from Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. India was not among these picks.


New baby penguin at Flamingo Land

PICTURE: New baby penguin at Flamingo Land
PICTURE: New baby penguin at Flamingo Land

STAFF at Flamingo Land are having to p..p..pick up a penguin after several baby chicks arrived at the theme park zoo near Pickering.
Zoo manager Ross Snipp said zoo keepers were keeping a close eye on them to check they are gaining weight and growing as expected.
“Each day the chicks are weighed and their growth and vital statistics plotted to ensure they flourish," he said.
The Humboldt penguins are found in the southern hemisphere, generally off the coasts of Peru and Chile, and are named after the ‘Humboldt Current.'
A spokeswoman said a fantastic ‘penguin experience’ could be enjoyed at Flamingo Land which allowed children over the age of 8, with under 12s accompanied by an adult, to feed the penguins.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Penguin's Moult

In honour of World Penguin Day (25 April), we’re thrilled to have this guest post about moulting penguins from Trudi Webster, Conservation Science Advisor at the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. Plus, it gives us an excuse to link to this year-round favourite. Visit the Otago Museum's Nature galleries or Animal Attic to learn more about penguins.

Moulting penguin Flickr Creative Commons
Image: Moulting yellow-eyed penguin, Richard Giddins, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Out with the old, in with the new

Over time a penguin’s feathers wear and break. Daily activities such as preening, swimming, landing on the beach after a day at sea or rubbing against bushes at a nest site cause feathers to deteriorate. To restore these feathers, penguins go through a moult – old feathers are pushed out and replaced by new ones. Penguins often look a bit scruffy during the moult as their old feathers fall out in patches. So if you see a penguin looking down-on-its-luck, don’t judge it too harshly – it might just be moulting!

Penguin feathers are highly specialized. They are essential for keeping it warm and dry while swimming in the cold ocean, and have developed to be short, broad and closely spaced, to trap air against the skin.

Timing is everything
Penguins lose their insulating and waterproofing capabilities while moulting, so they must stay out of the water. It takes yellow-eyed penguins about three to four weeks to replace their feathers each year. Since they can’t go fishing without the the full complement of feathers, they need to increase their food intake before moulting begins to sustain them while they are stuck on land.

It takes a lot of energy to build new feathers. Penguins typically time their moults to avoid periods of high energy demands, such as the breeding season. The most common moulting time is just after breeding, when food is still plentiful but chicks no longer need to be fed. Juvenile and non-breeding yellow-eyed penguins moult first, starting in late February. Yellow-eyed penguin parents start moulting in March, which gives them a few weeks of time to recover and put on weight after breeding.

How to treat a moulting penguin
Moulting can be a stressful and dangerous time for birds. Their energy levels are low and starvation is a possibility if they have not managed to put on enough weight. Birds are more susceptible to predators and disturbance, and the missing feathers compromise their insulation and protection from cold or rain.

If you see a moulting penguin, you can help by giving it a wide berth and keeping dogs on a leash. If you find a distressed or injured penguin, or someone harassing a penguin, contact the Department of Conservation on 0800 362 468.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Conservationists urge people to make the "right choices" with sustainable seafood

Tom Beasley, Trainee reporter

PENGUIN conservationists in Weymouth want residents to make wise choices when it comes to seafood.

Today marks World Penguin Day and staff at Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park have stressed the importance of avoiding seafood that is fished through methods which have an impact on penguins.
The park has a colony of 14 Humboldt penguins, which are native to coastal regions of Chile and Peru.

Its breeding programme has produced 14 successful hatches to date, with 10 of the penguins sent out to take part in breeding programmes at other Sea Life parks in the UK.

Jo Mullen, aquarist at Weymouth Sea Life, said: "It’s mostly about education and we like to spread the message about penguins because I think they tend to be misunderstood.

"Everybody thinks of cold species, but there are only actually three types that live in snow and all of the others live in warmer climates.

"We like to spread the message that it’s not just about ice caps melting; it’s actually to do with overfishing and human interference."

The park offers visitors the chance to adopt one of the penguins in order to raise money for conservation efforts.


It also provides copies of the Marine Conservation Society's 'Good Fish Guide', which offers advice on the best fish to buy and the most ethical places from which to buy it.

"It’s not about not eating fish; it’s just about making the right choices," said Jo.

"Certain methods, like bottom trawling, are actually quite dangerous because they catch a lot of other creatures – not just the target animal.

"For example, prawns are bottom trawled and for every pound of prawns, they can catch up to 4lbs of other aquatic species.

"Sustainable fishing is just about knowing where your fish comes from and buying locally if you can."

All species of penguins are vulnerable in the wild, largely as a result of overfishing by humans.
Jo added: "They are fantastic little creatures because they’ve got big personalities and they’re monogamous, so they tend to mate for life.

"They’re pretty good mums and dads, so one will sit on the eggs and the other will go and get food.
"When the chick hatches, they will spend up to two months sitting on the chicks themselves to look after them."

"They’re a bit like humans in that they care a lot for their children.

"They’re very dedicated and I think that in itself is really endearing."


Penguin Mouths are Nightmare Pits

Posted by Kyle Hill on April 25, 2016
Please read the following paragraph in Morgan Freeman’s voice:

And here we have the humble penguin, marching feet and all. Everything about the penguin is adapted for its semi-aquatic lifestyle, from its cheerful rotundity to its OH MY GOD WHAT IS UP WITH ITS MOUTH!?

For World Penguin Day, Nerdist would like to take a moment to remind you that for how adorable penguins are, their mouths are hellscapes. Open a penguin’s mouth, like the Enoshima Aquarium did in the video above, and you’ll find rows upon rows of backwards-facing spines.


The horrifying sight is a result of the penguin’s diet. Animals like you and me chew our food, usually dead food that won’t fight its way back up an esophagus. Penguins, on the other hand, eat their food — wet, wriggling fish — whole. To make the consumption of fish easier, especially underwater, penguins evolved spiked mouths and tongues to function like those tire spikes at a fancy parking lot — fish can proceed forwards (into the bird’s belly), but not backwards.

Other creatures have evolved a similar solution to eating slippery sea food. For whatever reason, I’m assuming most of us think that the interior of a turtle’s mouth is as docile as the animal. Not true for the leatherback sea turtle. Feasting almost exclusively on goopy jellyfish, the turtle’s mouth is as scary as a penguin’s. Actually worse.

PenguinMouth_TURTLEA leatherback sea turtle esophagus is not the most inviting place.

Not only does a penguin’s mouth prevent backwards movement, its tongue is much like a sarlacc pit — ever undulating to facilitate movement from the front of the mouth to the back.


13 Dapper Products to Celebrate your Inner Penguin

Rebecca OConnell

Image credit: amazon

Happy World Penguin Day! Celebrate everyone's favorite monochrome, flightless bird with some fun toys and gadgets.


Keep all your important files together with these adorable penguin-shaped paperclips—the bird's "wing" slips over the paper to hold everything in place. The set of 30 comes in a stylish blue box.
Find it: Amazon 


This small and portable screwdriver is great for repairs on the go. It comes with six different types of bits: Phillips #0 and #2, slotted 2.5 and 4mm, Hex 4, and 5mm.
Find it: Amazon


This penguin-shaped flash drive is perfect for storming 8GB of penguin trivia—just pop off the bird’s head and plug the body in.
Find it: Amazon


If you can't have a real penguin for a pet, this balloon is the next best thing: It's weighted to land on its feet and can be dragged around by an attached leash. It can be refilled, so your inflatable pet will last more than a few hours.
Find it: Amazon


These vibrant LED lights are perfect for illuminating dark hallways and bathrooms or throwing Antarctica-themed raves. The squishy plastic lights cycle through three colors: red, blue, and green.
Find it: Amazon

6. ICE MOLD; $7

Make penguin-shaped ice cubes, chocolates, gummies, or anything else you can think of with this helpful silicone mold. It’s heat resistant, machine washable, and microwave safe.
Find it: Amazon


Why have a regular corkscrew when you can have one that looks like a penguin? This corkscrew, which is touted to be "The Best Flightless Bird Bottle Opener on the Market," is plastic with a stainless steel worm and was inspired by the penguins on the South Pole.
Find it: Amazon


Make your cocktails even fancier with the help of nature’s most dapper animal.
Find it: Amazon


Lovers of gummy bears and Gushers will love these Trader Joe’s penguin gummies, which marry the two. The fat-free gummies have bellies filled with naturally flavored syrups in cherry, lime, and strawberry. Best of all, you get to skip the lines at Trader Joe’s if you order online.
Find it: Amazon


This adorable, collapsible hamper is the perfect to thing to keep your dirty clothes together before laundry day. Thanks to its round top, it looks like the penguin is eating the clothes, making picking up dirty clothing and tossing it in the hamper kind of fun.
Find it: Amazon


Celebrate your love of penguins with a boardgame that’s fun for the whole family. (This is not an actual branded game of Monopoly, but rather “-opoly inspired” so expect a bit of a twist on the classic format.) Two to six people can play at a time and learn fun penguin facts as they go.
Find it: Amazon

12. PINGU; $2.99

This British-Swiss children’s claymation show, Pingu, follows the titular character—a young penguin—as he gets into some trouble. The show’s characters have their own adorable language called "Penguinese" that you'll be quoting in no time. Noot noot!
Find it: Amazon

13. DUCT TAPE; $5

Is it duct tape or duck tape? Turns out it’s both, but this particular roll is penguin tape. Use it to repair or create, or just to embellish all the tragically un-penguin items in your life.
Find it: Amazon


Why Everyone Should Want To Be A Penguin

Sarah-Elizabeth Daly
1) You find your life partner through *song*. Horseshoe karaoke anyone?
Evening Times:

2) You get to be involved in a Parade. ALL OF THE TIME. 
Evening Times:

3) You would get to say NOOT NOOT without anyone looking at you weirdly
Evening Times:

4) You'd have a *huge* publishing house named after you and you'd receive these awesome jumpers. For free.
5) You'd get to walk down the street to Star Wars without any questions 


6) You could have starred in the greatest Christmas advert of all time

7) Got a black tie event coming up? Don't worry about your outfit, you're sorted. 
Evening Times:

8) You might not be able to fly, but boy you'd be able to swim
Evening Times:

9) Forget walking everywhere, you'd get around by traveling on your STOMACH. What's more fun than that?
Evening Times:

10) You'd get to meet loads of cool people, who would later go on to voice you in a HUGE movie...
Evening Times:

11)...speaking of which, you could have been in Happy Feet (or at least an animated version of you)

12) You'd get invited to loads of cool movie premieres, like The Mary Poppins 40th edition one!
Evening Times:

13) You'd just be the cutest thing around - why wouldn't you want to be a penguin?!
Evening Times:

Antarctica's March of the Penguins

25 April 2016
London - Whales have a special day, pangolins too, and every December all things simian are celebrated, so it seems only right that penguins should be similarly lauded with World Penguin Day on Monday. The global observance was launched four years ago when scientists at a US Antarctic research centre noticed that, without fail, Adelie penguins returned from the sea to breed on this day every year. It is now used as a means of promoting their conservation.

My admiration for these aquatic, flightless birds rose exponentially during an eight-day cruise around West Antarctica. Like the other 185 passengers on board the Ocean Endeavour, departing from Argentina's Tierra del Fuego, I wanted to be wowed by breaching whales, leopard seals' bloodlust, and nature's borderless paragliders, albatrosses.

Yet penguins are the fabric of all wildlife-watching voyages to Antarctica. Always waddling around, they are ready to entertain when whales can't be bothered to surface, and are all too often an oily lunch for predators in a sub-zero world that is as chillingly visceral as it is beautiful.

Even in a landscape as remote as Antarctica, penguins are facing unprecedented impact from humans, something I'd learn throughout our 1 500 nautical-mile voyage from Dr Tom Hart of Oxford University. This hitchhiking penguinologist uses Ocean Endeavour to monitor time-lapse cameras for his Penguin Lifelines project, whose goal is to better understand the threat to penguins and their fluctuating populations.

The first thing to admire about these comical creatures is a tenacity to exist around the Southern Ocean's frozen, wave-battered shorelines. The region's rigours were introduced to me by a hefty sea swell as we sailed south from Cape Horn at the tip of South America during a two-day crossing down the Drake Passage to Antarctica. I lurched around our reinforced ship like a drunken sailor, lolling between my comfortable seventh-deck en-suite cabin, lectures on everything from glaciology to ornithology, the gym, and Polaris Restaurant for Austrian chef Mannfed's excellent cordon bleu cooking.

Most of the world's 17 penguin species exist in the circumpolar Antarctic Convergence Zone, where sea temperatures range from 6ºC to 2ºC and warm sub-Antarctic and cold Antarctic currents meet, spawning rich, penguin-favoured feeding grounds of krill (tiny crustaceans). “Penguins don't like cold water, but they're not stupid. They like the food these waters bring,” lectured French ornithologist, Fabrice Genevois.

Halfway down the Drake Passage, it wasn't long before we spotted our first penguins prospecting for krill, skimming through the water like Wallis' bouncing bombs trailed by a black-browed albatross.
Soon after, the Antarctic Peninsula's ice-entombed isthmus was signposted by a floating behemoth of an iceberg (imagine the White Cliffs of Dover on a world cruise). Land duly appeared as Ocean Endeavour nosed between Brabant and Envers Islands near Neko Harbour on the 65th parallel where, on cue, a pod of humpback whales was gorging on krill.

The combination of blue-hued glaciers and dusky evening light was bewitching.

Planned daily trips onto land further increased my admiration for penguins. Even the pong of their fishy guano didn't deter our fleet of Zodiacs about to storm Neko Harbour, armed with 400mm lenses primed to pap any penguin that moved. Were the birds bothered? Not a bit.

On snowy slopes, against the backdrop of a glacier crevassed into teetering ice towers and wracked by rumbling avalanches, the Gentoo penguins were presumably preoccupied with survival. These knee-high birds, with a distinctive white eye-patch, are one of six Antarctic species that breed on Antarctic land. It was February, nearing summer's end and time was ticking for the colony's chicks to mature enough to face the onset of winter. Both parents made food runs while their downy greyish chicks fussed to be fed. “I've tried the regurgitated krill, it's quite tasty - a little salty perhaps,” said Genevois. I hoped chef Mannfred didn't agree. Elsewhere, mature penguins were preening their moulting feathers.

“These penguins are losers,” commented the ever-phlegmatic Genevois. “They have time to moult because they didn't breed or lose their chicks.

Dr Hart, meanwhile, checked a few of his land-and ice-based cameras, in place to observe the colonies in situ. He explained that his research suggested this 2 000-pair colony remains stable and reveals that Gentoo are remaining around the nesting beaches longer into winter than previously thought. “But this is a late crèche of chicks and quite a few won't survive the coming winter,” he cautioned.

Next day it was Chinstraps' turn to get papped. We sailed down the magnificent Lemaire Channel, whose mountainous flanks of snow and black basalt were patterned like a Friesian cow's hide.
Chinstrap penguins are a little smaller than Gentoo, with porcelain-white faces framed by a delicate black line around their neck. They live beside the Gentoo on a snowbound promontory, Port Charcot, named by early 20th-century French expeditionary, Jean-Baptiste Charcot.

Instead of landing, I took a kayak out for a penguin-eye perspective of their refrigerated world: an abstract gazpacho of fractured sea ice and bobbing blue-veined bergs, everevolving into shapes and textures such as scalloped shells, cubes, Art Deco curves, and floating toadstools, all inextricably dissolving into seawater as clear as glass.

Chinstraps barrelled past our kayaks, surfacing frequently for air. As winter's ice locks the landscape shut, they will head out to sea, fishing exclusively on krill. They can load up on 800 grams of krill - one-seventh of their body weight - to carry back to their chicks.

My admiration for their environment extended to new levels of respect that afternoon. On the ship's daily menu is a Wandering Albatross and Polar Plunge. The former is a gin and Cointreau cocktail; the latter a rites-of-passage dip in the ocean. Joining some of my fellow passengers queuing to take this unnecessary excursion, I felt like a mutineer about to walk the plank into the 1.6ºC brine - initial breathlessness, ice-cream headache, then shock followed in quick succession. The experience lasted barely a minute and ended with a Ukrainian waiter proffering a welcome shot of vodka.

Those same hostile waters host fearsome predators where our admirably brave penguins risk life and flipper every time they fish. “If this is a leopard seal I want to see him shredding penguins,” said Gordon, a no-nonsense pipefitter from Medicine Hat, Calgary. Of course, nobody wanted to see the little chaps getting eaten, but secretly we hoped they might lure some of Antarctica's mammalian and winged predators towards our boat, keen to pick up a penguin.

Orcas, for whom penguins are surely an hors d'oeuvre, offered only distant sightings. Yet Gordon's lust for penguin gore was sated by magnificent leopard seals, so named for their spots. One of these big seals volleyballed an unlucky Gentoo into the air before devouring it.

“Their skin is quite tough, so the leopards have a job biting through,” explained Genevois.
Jostling for dessert, Antarctica's mightiest winged scavengers, giant southern petrels, arrived with powerful vulturine beaks to rip into the remaining carcass, while petite Wilson's storm petrels, nicknamed Jesus Christ birds because they seemingly walk on water, snaffled morsels of flying gristle and blubber. Meanwhile, back at the penguin rookeries, predatory skuas loitered around the chicks to pick off the weakest.

In spite of the natural violence that surrounds them, penguins' biggest adversary is mankind.
Returning northwards towards Tierra del Fuego after three days on the Antarctic Peninsula, Ocean Endeavour called at the scenic South Shetland Isles. We steamed into Deception Island's flooded caldera: its last eruption in 1971 artistically streaked the snowy slopes with cindery, haematite-red ash. Nearby is Antarctica's largest Chinstrap colony at Baily Head, where black volcanic beaches are strewn with 50 000 pairs of Chinstraps. “It's a big colony,” said Dr Hart, “but numbers have fallen by 39 percent since 1986.”

Our onboard lectures muddied any oversimplified notions I had about anthropogenically induced climate change. Certainly, dissolving ice sheets are devastating for penguins. The recently reported Rome-sized Iceberg B09B grounded onto a beach in Eastern Antarctica and during four years has decimated an Adelie penguin colony that now has to detour 60 kilometres in search of krill.
But such ice break-ups may not be down to humans necessarily, cautioned onboard glaciologist Dr Colin Souness. He explained that the enormous Larsen Ice Sheet interlocking the Antarctic Peninsula has badly fragmented over recent decades, yet Eastern Antarctica has been observed to cool, hinting at the possibility of natural cycles of climate change.

However, Dr Hart does see direct human activity affecting penguins. “I'd summarise climate change, fisheries, disease and pollution, as penguins' biggest threat,” he outlined. “As an educated guess I'd say the relationship between climate change and krill-fishing presents the greatest challenge. When krill is over-exploited by fishing, he explained, it impacts penguins' ability to gather sufficient food to raise their young. If the ice sheets melt away, fishing can potentially penetrate deeper into Antarctica. Among other uses, he explained how krill is used in food colouring for products such as farmed salmon and Omega 3 oils.

A final disembarkation in the South Shetlands allowed us the chance to celebrate penguins one last time. Aitcho Island is fortified by Giant's Causeway-like columnar basalt, while humpback whales and leopard seals patrol a broad bay of black sands embedded by beached icebergs offshore.
Mixed colonies of Gentoo and Chinstraps played the crowd. Tubby, downy chicks huddled together, generating a fearful din. Others chased downtrodden parents who plunged into the sea to escape their persistent offspring. I watched with admiration a brave Gentoo repeatedly chasing away a menacing skua.

Life for penguins at the bottom of the world is a lot harder than I'd imagined. These brave little birds deserve celebrating today. I'll certainly be raising a glass. Something chilled, of course.


10 Fun Facts About The Tux-Wearing Flightless Birds

By Katherine Derla, Tech Times | April 26, 2016

They may live in cold areas but they sure warm our hearts. Here are 10 fun facts about these flightless birds in celebration of World Penguin Day.

(Photo : Siggy Nowak | Pixabay)
Penguins may live in chilly regions but they sure melt our hearts. As the global community celebrates World Penguin Day on April 25, here are 10 fun facts about these tuxedo-wearing, waddling, flightless birds.

1. Twice a year, the world celebrates having these elegant birds around. World Penguin Day is celebrated every 25th of April while Penguin Awareness Day is celebrated every 20th of January.

2. There are 18 penguin species around the world to date, many of which are threatened by the devastating effects of climate change.

3. The emperor penguin, which stands between 36 and 44 inches tall, is the largest of all penguin species in the world. The emperor penguin is perhaps also the most popular of all penguin species that have graced many animated films, including Disney's Happy Feet.

4. Penguins spend around 75 percent of their life in the sea. While many photos show the birds in huge colonies on chunks of ice, these birds actually prefer the water where they search for food such as squid, krill and fish.

5. Penguins sleep while standing up and with flippers out to help maintain the desired body temperature. They also huddle to keep warm. Many people think penguins don't sleep because they are seen on their toes most of the time.

6. Like you and me, penguins can get sunburned when they are in places that are closer to the equator. If you've even seen a penguin use its flippers to cover its feet while walking on land, that's their way of preventing sunburn.

7. All penguin species are carnivorous. Depending on how much food is readily available, they fight each other for food sources. While some prefer hunting near the shores, others can also dive deeper into the water for more food.

8. Some penguins can reproduce as early as 3 years of age, especially the smaller penguin types. The larger ones mature later, between 3 and 8 years of age.

9. Penguins are romantics, well at least to some degree. Many penguin species often find one life-long partner and can even find them among thousands of penguins in the mating grounds. Aww.

10. Female penguins can lay up to two eggs for every successful conception. All couples across penguin species take turns to incubate the eggs until hatching.


Name Chosen For National Aviary’s Newest Penguin

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new name has been selected for a new penguin at the National Aviary.
A 3-year-old female African Penguin recently came to the National Aviary from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and the National Aviary asked the public to vote for one of three possible names for her. The choices were Maggie, Madison or Kenzie.
The winner is…Maggie!
  • Maggie 10,922
  • Kenzie 10,378
  • Madison 2,045
More than 23,000 votes were cast in just a few days. The name Maggie barely edged out Kenzie.
The National Aviary says their new penguin was hatched in captivity and raised by penguin parents.
“Our goal is to encourage these two to form a bond, and hopefully in the future we’ll see eggs from them,” said Teri Grendzinski, supervisor of animal collections at the National Aviary.


Monday, April 25, 2016

#Penguins of the Day

Antarctica: Penguin Hunting 

Antarctica: Penguin Hunting by Eli Duke

Happy World Penguin Day!

Shedd announces name of newest rockhopper penguin chick

Rockhopper penguin #23 name reveal at Lurie Children's Hospital.  | @Shedd Aquarium
Rockhopper penguin #23 name reveal at Lurie Children's Hospital. | @Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium announced the name for its newest rockhopper penguin chick at a special event Monday morning at Lurie Children’s Hospital — Diego.
Lurie Children’s patients, families, volunteers and staff voted and chose the name Diego for the 10-month-old male rockhopper penguin, who was previously known as Chick 23, according to a release from the Shedd. The chick is the 23rd rockhopper penguin to hatch at the aquarium.

The other choices included Dawson, Lennox and Javier, which were chosen by the Shedd’s marine mammal staff and reflect the geographic native habitats of rockhopper penguins.

Diego, who hatched June 9, 2015, currently measures about 18 inches and weighs between four and six pounds, which is average for an adult penguin, according to the release. Rockhopper penguins are identified by their distinctive crest feathers on their heads and bright orange-red bills.

The Shedd Aquarium's male rockhopper penguin chick 23 finally has his own name, Diego. | @Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium’s male rockhopper penguin chick 23 finally has his own name, Diego. | @Shedd Aquarium

Facts about penguins for World Penguin Day

Detroit Zoo Penguins_Roeb (1).jpg
A penguin swims in the Detroit Zoo's new Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Royal Oak, Mich. The new penguin habitat that the zoo calls the world's largest such facility offers its 80-plus residents new rocks for climbing, waves, snow and better ice conditions, while allowing visitors to come nose-to-beak with the stately birds. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
(WPBN/WGTU)-- Monday is World Penguin Day!

Monday is one of two days throughout the year dedicated to the wobbling birds. April 25th is World Penguin Day and January 20 this Penguin Awareness Day.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, penguins are a family of 17 to 19 species of birds that mostly live in the southern hemisphere.

The WWF says that even though penguins cannot fly across the sky, they can fly underwater. Instead of wings, penguins have flippers that can propel their bodies up the 15 miles per hour.

Climate change is a growing concern for penguins that live in Antarctica-- the emperor penguins and the Adelie penguins, the WWF reports.

The WWF says "a 2008 WWF study estimated that 50 percent of the emperor penguins and 75 percent of the Adelie penguins will likely decline or disappear if global average temperatures rise above pre-industrial levels by just 2 degrees Ca scenario that could be reached in less than 40 years."


Penguin Populations Are Changing Dramatically

Rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula is killing some species but helping others
  • By Niina Heikkinen,  on April 25, 2016
Adélie penguins. Credit: Eli Duke/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Animal species around the world are beginning to feel the effects of warming temperatures, but few are seeing their habitats change as quickly as the Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Jutting out into the Scotia Sea toward the southernmost tips of Chile and Argentina, the 800-mile-long peninsula is warming at five times the rate of the planet. Since the mid-20th century, temperatures have risen on average by 6 to 7 degrees Celsius. The warmer weather has had a significant impact on the amount of sea ice, with the ice-forming period in the winter months now about 90 days shorter than it used to be.

“This is important because the advance and retreat of sea ice acts as a sort of engine that drives more Antarctic marine ecosystem processes, not the least of which are the aspects of ecology of the three penguin species,” said Bill Fraser, a penguin expert and ecologist who has been studying the seabirds from Antarctica’s Palmer Station’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) area since 1974.

“It’s fair to say these species are the canaries in the coal mine of Antarctic climate change, super-sensitive to even subtle changes in the system because their life histories play out in a finely tuned balance between the availability of sea ice and open water,” he said.

As penguin species face rapid warming on the southern pole, the impacts of the environmental changes vary from region to region and from species to species. While it’s clear that climate change is leading to less sea ice near the peninsula and more open water, what’s less certain is how these changes are directly linked to the region’s changing penguin populations, scientists say.

In recent years, Fraser has seen more snow and rain affect the sea-ice-dependent Adélie penguins in the southern area of the peninsula. Rainfall used to be a rare occurrence; now eggs and chicks are drowning from the precipitation, he said.

The decreases in sea ice are also making feeding harder for these seabirds.

“The penguins use the sea ice as a platform from which to forage. The sea ice brings the Adélies to the most productive areas. When you have less sea ice, it decouples them from being able to feed effectively,” Fraser said.

Iceless birds boom

At the same time, the chinstrap and gentoo penguins that prefer ice-free habitats have experienced population booms in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula as sea ice has declined.

Farther north on the peninsula’s tip, researchers and environmental groups are concerned about how less sea ice coupled with fishing pressure could affect krill, the main source of food for the Adélie and chinstrap penguins.

The 2.5-inch-long, shrimp-like crustaceans are dependent on sea ice. Young krill are protected from harsh winters under the ice, and the crustaceans eat the single-celled algae called diatoms that grow there.

Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Global Penguin Conservation Campaign, said the combined environmental and human pressures spell trouble for the penguins, whose populations in that region have declined by 30 percent over the last 30 years.

“Even though there is a huge biomass of krill in the Southern Ocean, that amount of localized fishing is very bad for the predators in that region, particularly the penguins who can’t go very far away from land when they are nesting and breeding. They have to be able to get in and out pretty quickly to bring back food for their chicks,” said Kavanagh.

Fishing vs. warming

As temperatures continue to rise, there are concerns that without stricter protections on krill fishing, the industry could expand and put more pressure on the penguins. Krill fishing is highly concentrated in one specific area at the northwestern tip of the peninsula. Pew is campaigning to push fishing farther away from shore and to establish a marine-protected area.

“People are saying, ‘Look at the penguin populations on the peninsula; we don’t know why that’s happening, and even if it is just climate change, we have to not fish there because of the effect of climate change.’ That is the thing we can eliminate while we try to figure out this whole climate thing,” Kavanagh said.

Fraser, however, cautioned that the link between krill abundance and penguin populations wasn’t consistent.

“All three of the penguin species we study have diets dominated by krill, so with decreased ice and presumably less krill, how could Adélies be decreasing while chinstraps and gentoos are increasing?” he said. “One would think that if krill were decreasing, all these penguins would also be decreasing, but this is clearly not the case in our study area, nor anywhere else on the Antarctic Peninsula where these three species co-occur.”

Currently, the fishing companies that operate in the Antarctic are fishing well below the “trigger” level established by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which governs fishing around the continent. CCAMLR regulates catches to stay within 620,000 metric tons, or 1 percent of the 60 million tons of krill in the region. The annual catch is about 0.3 percent of that total, according to the commission.

Cilia Indahl, sustainability director for Norwegian krill fishing company Aker BioMarine AS, said it would fully support efforts to limit fishing near the shoreline if researchers showed that fishing was directly hurting wildlife.

“There is no research as of today that shows krill fishing has any impact on whales, penguins or seals,” Indahl said.

“Actually, the impact of climate change is much more important to address,” she added.

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC., 202-628-6500


New Zealand first to protect little blue penguins from dogs

Sally Bain is hoping that dogs Bell can be taught to leave Eastbourne's penguins alone.
Nicholas Boyack
Sally Bain is hoping that dogs Bell can be taught to leave Eastbourne's penguins alone.

They are cute and small but little blue penguins living in Eastbourne are under attack.

Although cats usually cop the blame for killing native birds, in Eastbourne dogs are the culprit.

York Bay woman Sally Bain has come up with a unique solution - penguin aversion training - which she believes is a first for New Zealand.

Just as dogs can be trained not to attack kiwis, they can be trained to leave penguins alone.

Bain got the idea from the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust, which does kiwi aversion training to protect the kiwi population behind Wainuiomata.

Dogs are walked past a stuffed kiwi and if they show an interest, they get a small electric shock from a collar around their neck.

Bain is not sure how many penguins are killed by dogs but believes it is a significant problem.
"It happens again and again during the breeding season."

Losing penguins to dogs is frustrating because it could be avoided by owners acting responsibly.
She does not favour banning dogs from the coastal areas of the eastern bays, as that would only antagonise dog owners. Education, she believes, is the best bet.

Training dogs to avoid penguins, increased signage and making owners understand all dogs are a threat is a better approach, she says.

Penguins used to breed all along the coast but the loss of habitat, dogs and cars has reduced their numbers.

The New Zealand population on the mainland is thought to have declined by 60 per cent since the 1960s.

Wellington also has little blue colonies on Matui/Somes, Seatoun, Moa Pt and Ngauranga.

* Saturday April 30, 9.3Oam to 3.30pm in front of Eastbourne RSA. Sally Bain 0211130062.

Penguin facts
* Blue penguins are the smallest penguins in the world at just 35-43cm tall and weigh between one and 1.5kg
* The average life span is six and a half years.
*Penguins travel 15–75 km at sea each day.
*Long-term partnerships are the norm, but divorce is not uncommon.
*Underwater, penguins can reach speeds of six kmph but average two to four kmph.
*Chicks usually return to within a few metres of where they were raised and once settled in an area never move away
* They only come ashore under the cover of darkness.
* They nest in burrows, rock crevices, caves, nesting boxes, or under buildings.
* From June to November penguins come ashore to lay eggs and raise young.
* The chicks are guarded for the first three weeks, after which both parents go to sea to keep up the supply of fish.
*Adults feed their chicks but never their mate.
*Chicks fledge at eight weeks and are independent from then on. - (From the West Coast Penguin Trust).


A Penguin Keeper in South Africa

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
by Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo keeper Kristin Dvorak with wild African penguins at the Betty's Bay colony in South Africa's Western Cape region
Assistant lead bird keeper Kristin Dvorak traveled to South Africa to rehabilitate African penguin chicks abandoned by their molting parents.

A Keeper Cares for African Penguin Chicks in South Africa

While the zoo and its bird experts strive to ensure that parents, and not humans, care for their chicks, it doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve had the opportunity as assistant lead keeper to hand-raise many species of birds, most recently the zoo’s first-ever Chilean flamingo chicks.

Those experiences proved extremely beneficial. Because it’s also what I did for two weeks in late November–early December 2015, when I went to South Africa to care for African penguin chicks.
I made the journey as Lincoln Park Zoo’s 2015 recipient of the Feay Earthwatch Grant. The grant program, generously funded by zoo donors Mary and Bruce Feay, helps Lincoln Park Zoo animal-care staff take part in annual field research expeditions around the world. Through it I was able to participate in the international volunteer program run by the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Seabirds (SANCCOB) in Table View, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa.
SANCCOB is a non-profit conservation center dedicated to seabird rehabilitation, with a large focus on the endangered African penguin species. I went there to gain hands-on experience hand-raising African penguin chicks and see the amount of work involved in rescuing, rehabilitating and caring for these chicks.

Rehabilitated African penguin chicks released to colony at Betty's Bay in South Africa
Four African penguin chicks, rehabilitated at SANCCOB, explore coastal habitat at South Africa’s Stony Point Penguin Colony moments after their release back into the wild.

The experience also gave me the opportunity to witness some of the challenges this species faces in its native habitat along the coasts of South Africa and Namibia. There are approximately 50,000 African penguins left in the wild—a struggling population reeling from a catastrophic 70 percent decline over the past 10 years. The decline is related to human disturbance, egg collection, oil spills, commercial collection of guano (used by penguins to build burrows for nests) and a decrease in the food supply caused by several factors, including overfishing by commercial fisheries and climate change. Lincoln Park Zoo works with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions to keep this species SAFE through shared conservation efforts such as the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP)®.

Lincoln Park Zoo will be offering a home to African penguins when the Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove opens later this year. The exhibit will be home to a breeding colony and feature state-of-the-art animal-care amenities and an immersive guest experience. A dozen nest-box alcoves will be situated on a sandy, rocky beach next to a pool for swimming and diving. An extensive underwater-viewing window and a penguin encounter area will give guests up-close views of these remarkable birds and their behaviors and group dynamics. At the new exhibit I’ll be able to apply what I learned during my field-site work in many ways. Besides caring for the zoo’s colony, I’ll be able to share with visitors and staff the challenges I personally saw this species face in the wild.

SANCCOB volunteers construct an enclosure for African penguin chicks. Each pen holds 25–30 chicks.

This future work with penguins was on my mind as I made the long journey to South Africa. I flew from Chicago to London to Cape Town, which took two days. There was no time for sightseeing—I began work the day after I arrived!

By 7:45 a.m. that first day everyone was to be in uniform, which consisted of oil slicks (mid-weight rubber coveralls) that went over my dry-wicking pants and T-shirt, two neoprene arm guards and one glove for my left hand. This glove provided protection from biting chicks while also allowing my other hand to remain “fish-free” while feeding the chicks. This is important because fish oils can negatively affect the chicks’ feathers. At 8 a.m. I met with staff and other volunteers to learn which area I’d be working in, who would be my supervisor for the day and anything deviating from the norm in that area. I spent that morning washing dishes and doing a lot of laundry.

Next came my orientation, which involved watching a video about the center and taking a tour of its facilities. Lunch followed, and then I went to meet the chicks I’d be working with the remainder of my time. The first time I saw all these chicks I was amazed by how many were already at the facility—and even more amazed at how loud they were!

Chicks huddle while waiting for their next feeding. Commonly called “jackass penguins” for their donkey-like braying, African penguins are not quiet when communicating their needs.

My assigned area housed about 100–130 African penguin chicks that were 8–10 weeks old. These chicks were at the center because they’d been abandoned by their molting parents. When adult penguins molt they are no longer waterproof, and therefore cannot swim to get fish to feed their chicks. For that reason it’s unusual for penguins to molt when they are raising chicks. However, the species’ breeding season is changing due to environmental shifts caused by climate change. If not for the intervention of SANCCOB and partners such as CapeNature, these chicks would not survive.

Park service staff with CapeNature—a public agency managing nature conservation areas and programs in the Western Cape region—help by monitoring nest sites and abandoned chicks. If there are abandoned chicks, SANCCOB is notified, and chicks are transported to the facility for hand-rearing.
African penguin chicks arrive at SANCCOB for rehabiliation prior to release in the wild
SANCCOB staff and volunteers rescued and rehabilitated nearly 300 chicks from October–January, necessitating efficient exam and management processes.

Here is what a typical day was like for me: At 8 a.m., I went to my area and chose a pen to work in. Each pen contained about 25–30 chicks. I picked up each chick, checked its band number to see if it needed medication and restrained it while feeding it Darrow’s water (water containing nutritious supplements).

I had to finish this process by 9 a.m. so the chicks could have a one-hour break between feedings. During that time, I'd take any chicks with respiratory issues to a nebulization chamber, in which they’d remain for no longer than seven minutes, or clean their pen while another volunteer monitored the nebulizing treatment. Chicks come to SANCCOB due to a variety of conditions, including abandonment, poor plumage, low weight and respiratory health issues.

Chicks, who’d normally be fed regurgitated fish by their parents, receive a nutrient-rich fish slurry through a syringe-like dispenser connected to a tube.

At 9:40 a.m., I was either preparing fish and vitamins or giving some chicks the chance to go swimming in a small on-site pool. Starting at 10 a.m., all chicks were fed their fish and vitamins, and I recorded the amount of fish each chick ate. Then I took a quick break to work on individual records for each chick under my care. At noon, I fed fish slurry (puréed sardines, water and vitamins) to the chicks, continued working on their records and took a quick lunch break.

The afternoon regimen was similar. At 1:40 p.m., I prepared fish for a 2 p.m. feeding. After feeding each chick, I applied a mosquito repellant ointment to the top of its head and put mosquito repellants throughout the area. These extra precautions were taken because African penguins are susceptible to malaria.

Dvorak helps penguin chicks into an indoor pool for a strength-building swim during their rehabilitation at SANCCOB.

From 3–3:45 p.m. we got medications ready for the 4 p.m. feeding, when I gave water and medication (if needed) to the chicks. The last feeding of the day—a fish-slurry mixture—took place at 5 p.m. Afterwards, we cleaned our supplies and finished any incomplete records. I was usually done with work between 5:45–6 p.m.

Most days were basically the same as described above. But on Thanksgiving Day I was especially thankful for one experience in particular. We had a special opportunity to see some of the rescued birds returned to the wild. We released nine African penguins and two cormorants. This took place with seven volunteers, including our driver, who drove us two hours to Betty’s Bay, site of the Stony Point Penguin Colony, one of only three land-based African penguin colonies. Two are in South Africa; one is in Namibia.

We carried cardboard boxes containing our birds to a ramp near the ocean, placed the boxes on their sides and opened them so the birds could walk out. Initially, the penguins did not want to go into the ocean, but after a little bit of encouragement they walked in and began swimming.

On Thanksgiving Day, Dvorak and fellow volunteers released nine penguins and two cormorants back into the wild.

Even though I hadn’t worked with the penguins being released that day, I knew the staff’s tireless efforts had paid off.  It was incredible to see these once weak chicks strong enough to swim in the ocean and join the rest of the penguins at the colony.

After the release, I was able to look at the colony from an adjacent boardwalk. I had to keep reminding myself I was seeing these penguins in the wild and wasn’t at a zoo—the only place I had previously ever seen penguins. The boardwalk, open to the public, is a big tourist destination. It was remarkable to see how close visitors could get to the penguins to observe them swimming, walking and resting in their natural habitat. Park service staff, who closely supervise the colony, were available for questions. Informative signage provided further education about the penguins. I am optimistic this special experience will help in conserving these endangered birds.

Released African penguin chicks reacquaint themselves with their natural aquatic home at Stony Point Penguin Colony.

Most of the penguin colony’s nest sites looked like they’d been cut from plastic barrels, with holes added on the sides for air circulation. One of the challenges facing the species’ wild population is insufficient nest sites. Guano harvesting in several areas has reduced appropriate nest sites. Artifical nest sites have been created to replicate natural nests in the wild. Several methods have been tried to see which work best. Barrels provide a similar structure to a burrow excavated naturally. They’re also easy, quick and cheap to construct. Rocks and shrubs are an option too.

At the zoo’s Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove we’ll have nesting burrows a little different from those I saw in the wild. Tunnels will connect the exhibit to a nest-box room where crates will serve as burrows for the penguin pairs. I’m excited about the new exhibit and the modern tools it will give us to care for and breed this endangered species. I’m also hopeful that my experience at SANCCOB will be beneficial to our penguin colony. If we’re lucky enough to have chicks, I’m sure my newly acquired skills will be an asset.

Kristin Dvorak

Kristin Dvorak is assistant lead keeper for birds at Lincoln Park Zoo, where she cares for several species at the McCormick Bird House, Regenstein Birds of Prey Exhibit, Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond and Waterfowl Lagoon. Her trip was made possible by the generosity of zoo donors Mary and Bruce Feay, who support annual field expeditions for Lincoln Park Zoo animal-care staff.

Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove

Learn more about the zoo’s state-of-the-art African penguin exhibit opening in fall 2016.