Penguin Chick Rescue Project

April 10, 2014

The Chick Bolstering Project is a bit of a strange name for an organization that saves baby penguins,  but odd name or not it actually does rescue endangered baby penguins — and lots of them too over in South Africa. This penguin rescue project is a partnership with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCOB), the South African government, and others.  In the past six months, they’ve rescued more than 800 endangered African penguin chicks from starvation. Does that mean it’s time for a cuddle party?!  Perhaps. But, this is serious business for the endangered African Penguin.baby-penguin-chick-cared-for

The Penguin Post thinks this is more than just a cute, cuddly project as African penguins have been increasingly endangered for a few years now, and their situation grows more precarious every season.  In fact in the past 80 years, the African penguin population has shrunk 97.5 percent, because of overfishing, human encroachment, oil spills and climate change which has eliminated their food sources and nesting sites. rescued-african-penguin-chick

In many cases food has become so scarce that in recent years, parent African penguins were abandoning their little ones because the chicks were too small or sick from lack of food. The Chick Bolstering Project hand-rears these abandoned chicks, helps them bulk up a little, and releases them three months later.  Well done.

Penguin Center in Detroit Begins To Take Flight

April 10, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that yesterday, The Detroit Zoo announced that contractors will break ground on the $26 million Polk Penguin Conservation Center in May.  DBusiness reports that this project will last 18 months and is the largest project ever undertaken by the zoo. The new exhibit will be located on 2.1 acres near the zoo’s entrance in Royal Oak and is expected to increase attendance by 100,000 people each year.  Below is an artists rendering of the soon to be new Penguin House.AR-140419992

Same Sex Irish Penguin Couple

April 2, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that in a country where homosexuality was only made legal as recently as 1993 Ireland’s first gay penguin couple have set up a nest together in the country’s only gentoo penguin colony. The same-sex pair, Penelope and Missy, are exhibiting all the signs of a courting couple in their  polar ice home in Dingle’s Oceanworld.

They are following in the footsteps of a number of famous international same-sex penguin couples including long-time pair, Roy and Silo, from the Central Park Zoo in New York City, along with a King penguin couple in a Danish zoo which became adoptive fathers to a chick from an abandoned egg.

The Irish duo are one of five couples which have paired off for the breeding season at the polar exhibition which mimics the icy conditions at the South Pole in the Kerry Aquarium. The head penguin keeper, Kate Hall, said same-sex couples are not unheard of in the penguin world, although it is usually two males who pair off. “The ones in Central Park are icons for the gay community over there,” said Ms Hall. “They have a lot of fondness and affection for them. “It’s definitely not an unusual occurrence although this time it’s two females.”

She said Missy and Penelope have been displaying all the signs of a courting couple in their enclosure, which is home to a dozen of the black and white creatures. “The thing penguins do to show they like each other is they bow to each other and they are doing that. “When they come into breeding season, they do it to the penguin of their choice and it reinforces the bond between them.

“It is very sweet to watch.”GayPenguins_large

Penguin Gets New Beak

March 27, 2014

 

The Penguin Post has learned that an African Penguin at the Warsaw Zoo in Poland who damaged his lower beak will be given a new, prosthetic beak thanks to new 3-D printing technology.

His keepers don’t know exactly how, but four weeks ago one of Warsaw Zoo’s African penguins managed to break his beak, damaging the bottom part to the point that the bird could no longer eat or preen, putting his life in danger. But there was hope to be found in technology; more specifically, 3D printing.

To restore his life to normal, a team of 3D printing specialists and veterinarians are collaborating to build a new beak. First, the team made comprehensive scans of the beak of a dead penguin from 12 different angles in order to figure out the shape and dimensions of the beak. Then, 3D printing specialist Omni3D built a model of the beak that would fit the wounded bird.

The beak itself goes to print this week on by MTT Polska, using a high-tech eco-plastic, and will be fitted to the bird in a complex operation. Veterinarians will put the bird under general anaesthetic, then grind down his beak so that the prosthetic can be placed over it. MTT Polska is also making beaks in several different materials — plastic and silicone — in case the prosthetic falls off or proves unsuitable.

In the meantime, the penguin has been fed by hand, but if the operation succeeds, the little guy will soon be devouring his herring along with his fellows with no indication that anything was ever amiss — except, perhaps, a brightly colored beak as a memento.

Penguin Place Helps Penguin Chicks Down Under

March 11, 2014

Sometimes New Zealand’s native penguin species have it tough out there in the wild. This year large numbers of yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho chicks – natives of coastal Otago in New Zealand – have had a particularly challenging first few months of life. yellow-eyed-penguin

Every year in November/December yellow-eyed penguin chicks begin to hatch around the wild beaches of the Catlins, Otago Peninsula and North Otago.

There are often a few that are abandoned by their parents or aren’t well fed, and need to be removed from their nests. But this year a late breeding season and lack of fish to eat has meant a large number of chicks have gone hungry and many have died.

Fortunately, around 80 of these chicks and juveniles are now in the care of Penguin Place (not to be confused with Penguin Place here in the USA.doc-with-penguin-chicks

Penguin Place is a privately run conservation effort and tourism operation, funded through the guided tours they conduct. This project began in the mid 80’s as a family-run conservation project and nature tourism experience. They now carry out a range of conservation work including a research program, trapping predators, providing safe nest boxes, restoring a stretch of coastline to prime penguin habitat, and rehabilitating sick and injured penguins in its penguin hospital.

Throughout the breeding season, a small team of Deptartment Of Conservation rangers and volunteers monitor the penguin nesting grounds, conducting health checks of the chicks to make sure they are well fed and gaining weight.

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Those that are showing signs of starvation or other ailments are removed from the nest where needed and taken to safe havens like Penguin Place till they fatten up and are ready for release.

Feeding 80 hungry beaks is a big job. It takes two keepers three hours twice a day to hand feed all of the penguin hospital’s current patients – and they’re consuming up to 80 kilos of fish per day! Plus, because they’re still growing, these young patients need fish that’s full of protein and other vitamins, preferably small whole fish with blood, guts and bones.

Thankfully some generous partners have come to the aid of Penguin Place this year. Talleys Nelson contributed an emergency supply of one ton of pilchard; and seafood company Sanford Limited has just agreed to provide an ongoing donation of up to six tons per year.

DOC doesn’t run its own facilitates for providing the specialist care that’s needed to rehabilitate sick or injured wildlife. We work in partnership with a number of specialist organizations like Penguin Place, who have permits from DOC to care for native species. These organizations play a really important role in conservation.

 



Chubby Penguins Go For Power Waddle

March 11, 2014

 This winter the Penguin Post has learned that for some chubby penguins in Japan it’s like March of the Penguins up close and personal. Keepers at the Asahiyama Zoo in Japan usher the birds out twice a day at 11 am and 2.30 pm during the months of December to March, to make sure the penguins don’t pile on the pounds.
The walk is designed to keep the penguins fit and healthy and fend off obesity during the winter months, when the birds tend to be less active and accumulate more fat. 1103penguins
The Penguin Walk has now become a world-renowned attraction, with tourists flocking to the zoo to witness the extraordinary event.
The walk, according to the zoo, is done at a ‘penguin’s pace,’ which means it takes about 40 minutes. The chubby penguins can only be walked during the winter months, because without the snow, the normal concrete paths of the zoo would damage their feet. 1103penguins1

Penguin Sweaters Wanted

March 7, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that The Penguin Foundation has a global call out for knitters to make pullovers for penguins in rehab.  The reason is that penguins caught in oil spills need the little sweaters to keep warm (as they lose their natural insulation) and to stop them from trying to clean the toxic oil off with their beaks. Knitter Lyn Blom is the receptionist at Phillip Island Nature Parks in Victoria and has knitted many penguin jumpers over the years. The Penguin Foundation is based at Phillip Island, which is known for having a large penguin colony. Lyn Blom says it’s not just major oil spills that cause problems for local penguins. “Fishermen might clean out a container or something while they’re at sea,” says Lyn. “It’s a continuing problem,” she says. “We get probably about 20 birds a year.” One advantage of knitting a penguin sweater is that they are small since the Australian Little Blue Penguin is the smallest of all the penguin species. “They’re very quick,” says Lyn. The Penguin Foundation also distributes the jumpers to other wildlife rescue centres where needed.

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You can download more information about how to knit for penguins, including the knitting pattern and where to send the finished product. While the Penguin Foundation’s website says it currently has a ‘good supply’ of the little jumpers, the organisation also uses them in educational programs as well as selling them as a fundraising measure. In 2011 the foundation raised money for a new Phillip Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which can house up to 1500 penguins in the event of a major oil spill.

This Penguin Can Fly

February 23, 2014

As told to the Penguin Post a special penguin-shaped hot air balloon will become the newest addition to the ever growing fleet owned by Gloucestershire, England based Exclusive Ballooning as they celebrate their 15th birthday.

A Facebook competition is also running until Wednesday to decide upon a name for the balloon.

The penguin is the result of a design competition, where hot air ballooning fans were invited to submit online designs for a character balloon with the winning design being turned into reality. The winning design is based on a character from a sketch by Bristol,UK based artist Tom Moore.

The 70,000 cubic feet penguin shape hot air balloon will be built in Spain by specialist manufacturer Ultramagic using revolutionary new techniques in order to make this one of the lightest special shapes ever built.

The penguin already has his own website blog following ‘his’ production from sketch to reality and then following his adventures around the world.

Andrew Holly, managing director of Exclusive Ballooning, said: “We love the design of this penguin balloon and think it will make a real splash at the balloon festivals it will be visiting around the world. This balloon will be a real crowd-pleaser and Tom has done a great job in designing something simple and easy to identify with. Everybody loves a penguin.”

You can say that again.

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Penguins Given Anti-Depressants

February 8, 2014

One would think that penguins are use to bad weather, but the Penguin Post has learned that the penguins in a British animal sanctuary are so miserable about the current state of the weather in the U.K. they are being given antidepressants. It seems the constant wind, rain and snow that has lashed the country this winter has the Humboldt penguins at the Sea Life Centre in Scarborough down in the dumps, the Guardian reports. “Humboldts in the wild on the coast of Peru and Chile can be subjected to some pretty wild extremes of weather,” curator Lyndsey Crawford told the Guzelian news agency. “What they don’t get though is weeks of almost daily downpours and high winds. “After the first week out birds were just a bit subdued, but after over a month now, they are thoroughly fed-up and miserable, much like the rest of us.” This is not the first time the animals have become anxious from a change in routine. Three years ago, they became stressed after a trespasser broke into their enclosure and had trouble producing eggs again. The antidepressants are being administered to try to circumvent any more serious symptoms that might arise as a result of the penguins’ misery. “They’re doing the trick so far, but we are all praying for the weather to change and at least a few successive days of sunshine to give the penguins the tonic they really need,” said Crawford.

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Emperor Penguins Looking For Protection

January 22, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the emperor penguin may warrant Endangered Species Act protection based on threats from climate change. The most ice-dependent of all penguin species, emperor penguins are threatened by the loss of their sea-ice habitat and declining food availability off Antarctica.

“Our carbon pollution is melting the sea-ice habitat emperor penguins need to survive,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center. “Emperor penguins are the icons of wild Antarctica, and they need rapid cuts in carbon pollution and Endangered Species Act protections if they’re going to have a future.”

Emperor penguins rely on sea ice for raising their chicks and foraging. In parts of Antarctica where sea ice is rapidly disappearing, emperor penguins populations are declining or have been lost entirely. The emperor penguin colony featured in the film March of the Penguins has declined by more than 50 percent, and the Dion Island colony in the Antarctic Peninsula has disappeared. One recent study projected that nearly half of the world’s emperor penguins may disappear by mid-century without drastic cuts in carbon pollution.

Warming ocean temperatures and melting sea ice in the Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica have also diminished the availability of krill — a key food source for emperor penguins. Ocean acidification resulting from the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide and industrial krill fisheries further threaten the penguins’ food supply.

In 2006 the Center filed a petition to list 12 penguin species, including the emperor penguin, as threatened or endangered. The agency protected seven penguin species but denied protection to the emperor penguin. In 2011 the Center re-petitioned the Service to protect the emperor based on new scientific information demonstrating the species is imperiled. In today’s finding the Service agreed to conduct a full scientific status review to determine if the emperor penguin should be protected under the Act.

Endangered Species Act listing of the emperor penguin would offer greater protections against the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change and the industrial overfishing of key prey species. For example, if penguins are listed, future approval of fishing permits for U.S.-flagged vessels operating on the high seas would require minimization of impacts on penguins. The Act also compels federal agencies to ensure that their actions — including those generating large volumes of carbon pollution — do not jeopardize endangered species and their habitat.

EmperorPenguins_MichaelVanWoert_NOAA

 


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