Caretakers at the SeaWorld San Diego Penguin Encounter say it will be another month before they know the gender of the newest emperor penguin chick. Spokeswoman Alexandra Kuty says sex is determined by the chick’s vocalizations. The 25-day-old chick will be introduced to the adult emperor colony when it is 4 months old. The penguin encounter is the only place in North America that successfully breeds emperor penguins. Spokeswoman Alexandra Kuty says there were 10 eggs this year but only one chick. It is the 21st emperor penguin hatched at SeaWorld. The chick weighed 12 ounces and was 4 inches tall when it was hatched. Today, it weighs nearly 2 pounds and is almost 7 inches tall. It will eventually be 4 feet tall and weigh around 99 pounds.
Archive for October, 2010
Painful joblessness continues. Health costs skyrocket. State and local budgets are reeling; the school board may close a bunch of schools. And people in Charlotte are steamed about … the Penguin? Yep. Few recent news items have gotten under more people’s skin than hearing that the guys who renovated and have run the Plaza-Midwood restaurant for a decade are leaving, apparently not happily, and the building owners want to try to franchise the Penguin – making one of Charlotte’s relatively few unique spots no longer unique. And that is the biggest rub. People love the Penguin for many reasons. (Of course, not everyone loves it, but given the lines, it’s clear thousands do.) One reason is where it is, in a diverse, in-town area with plenty of artsy types as well as its share of yuppies. The neighborhood actually has a couple of blocks of real storefront buildings – rare in this city. The Penguin, itself in an aging and decidedly unglitzy building, draws a crowd ranging from tattooed to wing-tipped. This is an era in which people love “authenticity,” meaning a place that’s its own self and nothing else. The Penguin is one of those places. And it’s not only that the Penguin is authentic, but it’s authentic in a city where over the years so many once-authentic places are now parking lots, or closed or otherwise gone. Remember the all-night Athens restaurant? A parking lot. Remember the Coffee Cup? It’s a blank field of red clay. Jack Wood’s men’s clothing store on South Tryon? A parking lot. Anderson’s Restaurant and its see-and-be-seen breakfasts? Gone. Since so little that is beloved in Charlotte seems to last, people tend to invest more of their hearts into the few spots with quirky personality and atmosphere. Sure, it’s a key part of capitalism that when you have a successful business you may want to expand it. No one is saying the Penguin’s owners have no right to try franchising. But in doing so, they take something many people treasure – the unique Penguin in unique Plaza-Midwood in unique Charlotte, North Carolina – and throw it overboard. Maybe in a few years folks in, let’s say, Spartanburg will see a Penguin franchise open. Maybe they’ll go. But maybe, instead, they’ll head to the Beacon Drive In. After all, that’s their own unique and beloved local joint. Who needs a chain?
The Penguin Post has learned that police in Dublin located a penguin stolen from a city zoo via tracking it by using a microchip and recovered from a city street. Investigators said the penguin was taken from the Dublin Zoo by a group of men at about 8 a.m. Thursday and was found on a city street a few hours later, The Irish Examiner reported Thursday. The penguin, a 10-year-old female Humboldt named Kelli, was unharmed by the ordeal, zoo officials said. “Dublin Zoo is naturally relieved that the animal is safe and unharmed and back in the zoo,” zoo officials said in a statement. “However, we wish to underline our annoyance about this incident. The welfare and health of all animals is our primary concern and this kind of incident is not frivolous and is certainly not something amusing.”
The Penguin Post has learned that a railway company in western Japan said it is offering tickets on a train to be conducted by an African penguin. The Ichibata Electric Railway Co., based in Izumo, said tickets will be available through Friday for a Saturday ride on a train featuring Haruka the penguin in the conductor’s uniform, Kyodo News reported Tuesday. The penguin, from Matsue Vogel Park, will lead the train on round-trip service along Lake Shinji in Matsue, the railway company said. “I hope the special train will be packed with many passengers, enough to make our penguin conductor work hard,” an Ichibata official said.
Once upon a time, not too long ago Penguin Place actually had it’s own relevant Penguin Hanukkah Section. Among the unique Jewish themed penguin items that constituted our Penguin Hanukkah Section was our very popular Penguin Menorah, which was adorable but in reality was more trouble than it was worth, as just about half the time one of the 9 penguin candle holders, (that were made out of painted marbles glue together) or candle cups would break off during shipping. The damaged menorah’s would leave a trail of penguin Hanukkah menorah mayhem throughout the Jewish penguin loving world during a time of the year that no one had the time to deal with damages, UPS claim forms and replacements. Despite all the trouble they made for us we loved this cool penguin festival of lights waddler, but sadly the woman who made the menorah’s by hand passed away a couple of years ago. We also had two plush penguins with Hanukkah or Jewish themes, Pinkus and Judah Macabee , but their manufacturer Princess Toys recently became a casualty of the economy and after 75 years in business went belly up taking Pinkus & Judah with them. As much as we wanted to bolster our Hanukkah / Jewish Penguin subjection, we recently took a pass on a hand crafted penguin mezuzah as we felt it was too pricey (would retail for $75) and we didn’t really find it attractive. This leaves us today with only our penguin kippah / yarmulke (skullcap) as our only penguin Judaica item, and as we know one item sadly does not remotely constitute a section, or even a subsection. It’s just a lonely number. So, with the start of the festival of lights holiday only 7 weeks away we must say that barring another miracle of Hanukkah there will be hardly a Jewish Penguin to be found in the land of Penguin Place.
Against my daughters fervent wishes Penguin Place has decided to sell our taxidermy penguin which we have been in possession of since this past Spring. Apparently this real live (at least he was in the 70′s) Adelie penguin was one of a set of two, the other purchased by Andy Warhol. As for how to price it, I found the last taxidermy penguin that was offered on line was a Humboldt which went for about $3,000 (taxidermy penguins are quite rare), and we all know that Adelie’s are much cooler than Humboldt’s, so by offering it for the same price we figure it’s a bargain. Call it the taxidermy penguin recessionary price curve. In the meantime unless there’s an unexpected quick sale Mr. Popper (as my kids call him) will be on the way to school next week for show and tell.
More fascinating news about the Giant Penguin as the Penguin Post has learned that Penguins didn’t always boast tuxedo-like black-and-white markings, according to a new study. The discovery of the first ancient penguin fossil with evidence of feathers reveals the aquatic birds were once reddish-brown and gray. The 36 million-year-old fossil represents one of the largest ancient penguins ever found. The bird would have been 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, and probably weighed twice as much as modern Emperor penguins, which average about 66 pounds (30 kilograms). Its long, grooved beak suggests that, like modern penguins, it hunted by diving for fish. Imprints of feathers in the rock around the bones could help researchers understand how modern penguin feathers evolved, said Julia Clarke, a paleontologist at The University of Texas at Austin and a co-author of the paper. “It’s the first evidence of the soft tissues of extinct penguins,” Clarke said.
The Penguin Post is happy to report that West Edmonton Mall Marine Life workers threw the birthday bash of a lifetime Saturday for their beloved African penguin Mulder, who’s 30th birthday was celebrated in honor of African Penguin Awareness day, a global initiative started as a way of highlighting the plight of this vulnerable species. The birthday boy made a special appearance above sea level, to greet fans and dive into some birthday cake, (herring for the aquatic bird, chocolate for birthday guests). “We just can’t believe he’s 30 years old,” said Marine Life manager Kim Pelechaty. “We’re so excited to be able to celebrate his life, he’s definitely a special penguin.” Pelechaty said it’s rare for penguins to live 30 years in captivity, and even more so in the wild. And she said we’re to blame. “It’s actually worse for them out there,” she explains. “Because of habitat encroachment, oil spills, over fishing and even poaching, African penguins are disappearing rapidly.” The Sea Life Caverns, a popular tourist stop at West Edmonton Mall, houses 22 penguins in total, along with seven sting rays, three green turtles and a whole lot of fish. Mulder, the oldest penguin at the mall, moved here in the 1980s from Granby Zoo in Quebec. He has fathered one baby penguin, named Yettie, and spends most of his time with his girlfriend Sid, a fellow African Penguin in her 20s. “The reason he has lived so long comes down to quality of life,” said Pelechaty. “He’s happy.” Pelechaty, who has been working with Mulder since 1998, said she hopes the birthday party raised awareness about African penguins. “In the last 100 years, African penguin populations have declined by 90%,” she explained. “That’s our fault, but we can fix it.” West Edmonton Mall is a member of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has been participating in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan since 1986. For more information on African Penguin Awareness Day visit arkive.org/african-penguin.com.
The other day I received an order for a penguin wedding cake topper from the soon to be married Sam Oppenheim. Not only does Sam have great taste in cake toppers (and brides) but he’s a very talented photographer as well, and on his website are some fantastic penguin photographs from his recent trip to Antarctica. Here’s a little something Sam wrote me about his penguin themed engagement. Very touching.
Last year I proposed to my fiancee with a stuffed penguin that had her engagement ring on its beak. That was a lark because I had taken to calling her my little ‘cylon penguin’ due to Battlestar Galactica silliness and my upcoming travels to Antarctica. Now, of course, we both are more interested in penguins than we used to be and it seemed only appropriate to look for penguin wedding cake toppers – we found you on a google search and were so excited to discover a great store full of penguin merchandise! Congratulations on weathering so many moves and the recession. Keep up the great work!
Sincerely, Sam Oppenheim
Just when we thought our giant 42″ tall inflatable penguin was big, scientists have come across the fossil remains of a five foot tall penguin. The first thing the graduate student saw was a set of foot bones at the surface of an excavation site in Peru. He turned over a rock and noticed a pattern of scales. This hinted that the large fossil might still have soft tissue intact — a rarity. The team of paleontologists nicknamed the specimen “Pedro” and took it to the lab for further examination. It turned out to be the remains of a 5-foot, 120-pound penguin — one of the largest ancient penguins ever found, according to an online report this week in the journal Science. Inkayaku paracasensis, as University of Texas paleontologist Julia Clarke and her team officially named the species, lived about 36 million years ago. One of the oldest ancient penguins found in Peru, it would have been about a third taller and twice as heavy as the emperor penguin, the largest penguin living today. Pedro is the most complete ancient penguin fossil yet reported — and he still has some of his feathers. “This is an extraordinary fossil find,” said Paul Scofield, curator of vertebrate zoology at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. Scofield studies ancient penguins but was not involved in Pedro’s discovery. Among other surprises, it appears that Inkayaku didn’t wear the classic penguin “tuxedo.” Pedro’s “suit” may have been reddish-brown and gray, the team reported. They figured that out using a cutting-edge color-mapping technique that examined the shape of melanosomes — the pigment-containing organelles inside cells — in the fossilized feathers. Then they compared them to a database of melanosomes from living penguins and other bird species. While the shape and pattern of Pedro’s flipper feathers resembled those of modern penguins, the melanosomes were quite different. Pedro’s melanosomes looked more like the organelles that contain gray and reddish-brown pigment in other kinds of birds, according to the report. Those of modern penguins are larger, and they cluster into grape-like formations that could alter the feathers’ microstructure. Clark said that the large melanosomes of the modern penguins might produce stronger feathers well-suited for swimming. Penguin evolution “is more complicated than we imagined,” said Scofield, who is still looking for the “missing link” that led to the modern birds. “There’s huge diversity.”