The Penguin Post is sad to report that nearly 500 African penguins died in 24-hours because of cold and wet weather at Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, The South African National Parks (SanParks) said on Tuesday. SanParks spokesperson Megan Taplin said: “The chicks, aged between a few weeks and two months, are covered only with down feathers. They succumbed to the cold and wet weather that has hit Bird Island.” It was common for a third of a penguin population’s chicks to die in such weather conditions, she said. However, with only 700 breeding pairs of African penguins on Bird Island, the death of over half the populations’ chicks presents an “added threat” to the dwindling numbers of penguins. The African penguin was recently reclassified as an endangered species because of its declining population across South Africa. Taplin said rangers on the island were trying to rescue the remaining birds by giving them temporary shelters made from available materials on the island. “They are also attempting to drain penguin nests which have filled up with water after about 20mm of rain on the island,” she said. Other penguins had died on St Croix Island near Port Elizabeth, home to 300 breeding pairs, the largest breeding colony of African penguins in South Africa. Taplin said there had been no official count of the number of dead birds on St Croix because of rough seas, which had made it almost impossible to access the island. She said park rangers hoped to reach the island by the end of the week.
Archive for December, 2010
Johannesburg, South Africa – A total of 49 African penguin juveniles were released onto Bird Island near Port Elizabeth on Thursday following a successful rehabilitation process, SA National Parks (Sanparks) said. “The penguins, now about three months old, were taken to Bird Island by Sanparks’ boat from Port Elizabeth Harbour early this morning,” Sanparks spokesperson Megan Taplin said in a statement. “After a three hour journey, they were released onto the slipway at Bird Island and soon joined the rest of the African penguin colony,” she said. The juveniles were removed as chicks by Sanparks from Bird Island in mid October when extreme cold, wet and windy weather threatened their survival. Sanparks manages the Bird and St Croix Island groups in Algoa Bay as part of Addo Elephant National Park. The chicks were rehabilitated at Penguins Eastern Cape in Cape St Francis and the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Center in Port Elizabeth. “Sanparks has also taken extra precautions in the meantime by providing artificial shelters for penguins and using material to drain nest sites to aid penguin chick survival,” Taplin said. “All released juveniles have been tagged and will be closely monitored by rangers on Bird Island to ensure they survive,” she said. There are about 1,300 breeding pairs of African Penguins on Bird Island and about 2,500 breeding pairs on St Croix Island, home to the largest African Penguin breeding colony in the world.
The Penguin Post has learned that the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pa is getting the birthday preparations ready for the first penguin babies in its 58-year history, although the celebration may be bittersweet. The aviary has a pair of African penguins who have the genetic makeup to soon mate successfully, which could mean penguin eggs in two months. Although the North Side institution is a national leader in protecting the species, which have a prime home in the aviary’s recently renovated building, it has never had a birth there. The timing is critical. The species was officially declared endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 28 and by an international conservation body in June. The African penguin population has dropped from 141,000 about 50 years ago, to 50,000 in 2000 to 25,000 today, a rate that could see them erased from the wild within 10 years. They are getting killed by commercial fishing, destruction of their habitat, oil pollution and other factors. “Everybody loves penguins. The challenge is they’re trying to survive,” said Steve Sarro, the aviary’s director of animal programs and the national coordinator of efforts to protect the species. But if the chicks come, he said, “We are going to celebrate. Trust me.” The African penguin lives off the southern coast of Africa, and is roughly half the size of the Emperor penguins of Antarctica. The aviary is home to 12 of the smallish birds, who behave almost like children, said Mr. Sarro, who has worked among them for 25 years. “They’re like 3-year-olds. They’re very challenging to work with sometimes,” he said. Mr. Sarro is the national coordinator for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ African penguin species survival plan. It involves a scientific breeding program for the birds, which can mean matching them up with genetically attuned penguins from other institutions from around the country. The aviary cooperates with similar breeding plans for andean condors, Guam rails and other endangered birds that have hatched chicks on the North Side. Mr. Sarro is head national matchmaker for the penguins, or “the stud-book keeper himself,” said National Aviary executive director Patrick Mangus. The aviary’s penguin parents-to-be are in a private area Mr. Sarro calls “the honeymoon suite,” secluded from the other penguins. They have not mated yet — the male is molting his feathers — but should be ready soon, in what their internal clock thinks is summertime, since their natural habitat is on the southern hemisphere. If the mating is successful, there are usually two eggs produced after two months and then cared for by both parents during a 38-day incubation period.
The aviary also announced Tuesday its latest accreditation from the AZA, which Mr. Mangus described as a “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” within the zoo industry. (The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is also accredited.) Zoo and aquarium buildings, programs and administrators submit to a thorough examination every five years to get the distinction, which the National Aviary has had for 25 years. It helps make sure institutions promote the latest advances in animal welfare, science and conservation, explained AZA president and CEO Jim Maddy. During site visits, AZA examiners “practically pick up your wastebaskets and make sure you don’t have any cobwebs on the bottom,” Mr. Maddy said.
Santa came early this year with a nice, fat shipment of our cool penguin slippers and in both adult sizes too. Although our supplier swore to us the slippers were on the way, we’ve heard it all before and this time of the year seeing is believing, and all we’ve been seeing is our slipper inventory dipping into the critical red level. We even tinkered with the idea of raising the price a bit using the old penguin supply and demand theory. But, today the “brown” brought us many a case pack of cool plush penguin slippers which we dutifully lugged up four flights of stairs to our igloo, ready to be repacked into smaller boxes, lugged down four flights of stairs and shipped out to penguin lovers around the world. Just thought you’d like to know our slipper inventory is back in black (and white).
This in from the Nashville Tribune Local Crime Blotter
- Two catalytic converters were stolen between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m .Dec. 2 in the 400 block of Fairway Drive.
- A red Mazda was stolen around 7:30 a.m. Dec. 3 in the 200 block of Lancaster Circle. Police estimated the loss at $17,000.
- A vehicle’s window was smashed and a purse was taken at 9:38 a.m. Dec. 3 in the 300 block of W. 87th Street.
- A vehicle’s window was smashed and a purse was taken between 8:43 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Dec. 3 in the 2100 block of 95th Street.
- A vehicle was burglarized between 9:14 a.m. and 11 a.m. Dec. 3 in the 1100 block of E. Chicago Avenue.
- An XBox, video games and loose change was stolen from a residence between Nov. 20 and Dec. 3 in the 800 block of N. Ellsworth Street.
- An iPod and GPS unit were taken from an unlocked vehicle between 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 7 a.m. Dec. 2 in the 1100 block of N. West Street.
- A 3-foot-tall Christmas decoration of a penguin with a Santa hat was stolen between 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29 in the 1100 block of Wydown Court.
Combine the colder weather, the holiday season, the cuteness of penguins and the popularity of the penguin knit pilot hats and you’ll understand why we simply told our distributors to send us what ever knit penguin hat (and mittens) styles they have available. So, it’s no surprise that every few days a new style of knit penguin hats goes up on our Penguin Place website. It’s amazing how many variations of a penguin knit pilot hat there can be, but it appears to be limitless. Our latest has a cool red bow tie and is as cute as can be, and yes we took this picture on a 1920′s football helmet.
Out cool Penguin P.J. sets are now on “let’s get them the heck out of here” super sale status. Our cool blue Cat’s Pajama made Penguin P.J. set with eye mask was $89.95 and is now $59.95, and our wonderfully retro two piece penguin p.j.’s from Munki Munki was $79.95 and is now $49.95. While supplies last!
This afternoon we received our latest kids knit penguin pilot hat. It’s really quite adorable, but the catalog image for this hat is a bit on the dull side, and it’s the same image as the adult version of the hat. So, tonight at our Hanukkah Party we had my daughters and some of their friends model the hat for me. It’s a tough call as to who will be Penguin Place’s next kid penguin pilot hat model so I thought I’d put the pictures up and let you decide. One vote per reader please.
A DECREASE in employee productivity across the country last week was being blamed on the snow. But the real culprit may have been the hugely popular, and for some distracting, penguin cam at Dublin Zoo. According to zoo staff, thousands of people have been logging on every day to check out the activity in the penguin enclosure – sponsored by a well- known penguin-related biscuit – where the zoo’s collection of 14 penguins can be seen cavorting cutely in the snow. Suzanne O’Donovan, marketing executive at the zoo said that on an average day around 300 people visit the penguin cam. “Last Wednesday we registered 3,000 visitors. There has been an incredible amount of interest from people who want to see penguins in a snowy environment,” she said. While more often associated with Antarctic landscapes, the Dublin Zoo 14 are in fact Humboldt penguins, a breed that hails from the milder climes of the Western coast of South America. Zookeeper Peter Phillips said that while they are adaptable to cold water, the snow actually causes the penguins quite a bit of anxiety. “Rather than being at home in the snow as some might imagine, they were actually quite nervous about it,” he said. “They were spending more time in their burrows and behaving more cautiously at feeding time.” (Feeding time at 2.30pm is peak viewing time for Dublin Zoo penguin addicts.) The nerves haven’t affected their appetites though. Keen penguin watchers will be interested to hear that their daily intake is usually eight small fish or sprats, but during the cold spell they have been having nearly double that amount. Among the penguins in the enclosure is Kelli, the female bird who was nabbed and then recovered earlier this year. “She settled back in immediately. She’s spending a lot of time in the burrow at the moment with her mate, Mick,” said Phillips. He can tell the penguins apart by the markings on their breasts but says visitors to the penguin cam will find it impossible to tell the birds apart. Interest in the penguin cam at Edinburgh Zoo also increased during the recent snowy conditions. Their Emperor and Gentoo penguins became Internet superstars with “twitchers” all over the world tuning in to watch the daily penguin parade which includes a King Penguin with a knighthood. We may not have any kings at Dublin Zoo but tweeters have also taken our nervous Humboldts to their hearts. “Dublin Zoo’s penguin cam might be the best thing in the whole world,” proclaimed tweeter buyandselldotie last week.
The Penguin Post has learned that a staggering total of 415 endangered African penguin chicks were recently rescued from starvation at various penguin colonies near Cape Town, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said on Wednesday. “The chicks… from land and island-based penguin colonies… were abandoned by their parents and in danger of starving to death,” IFAW spokesperson Christina Pretorius said in a statement. “This is the largest number of chicks the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sancobb) has cared for at one time since 2007 when 481 abandoned chicks were treated,” she said. A rescue team retrieved 236 chicks from Stony Point, 155 from Dyer Island and 24 others from various colonies on Wednesday. They were taken to Sancobb, where they would be hand-reared for about six weeks before returning back to their colony. “On several penguin colonies, chicks that hatch late in the season are frequently abandoned by their parents when the weather grows warmer and as food supplies diminish,” Pretorius said. “The problem is exacerbated by the fact that remaining adult penguins begin their annual molt at this time of the year. During molting the penguins shed their old feathers and grow new ones, leaving them not waterproof and therefore unable to swim, catch fish and feed their chicks.” Sancobb CEO Venessa Strauss said that hand-reared penguin chicks showed a higher record of surviving to breeding age as well as higher productivity, compared to those fledged in the wild. African penguin populations hav declined by more than 60% in the last three generations, Pretorius said.The sharp decrease led to African penguins being classified endangered rather than vulnerable.