The Penguin Post has learned that the first Rena-refugee penguins in New Zealand are being moved into their flashy new digs but their new accommodation has had to be protected by stoat, rat and cat traps. Over 300 Little Blue Penguins are in care at the Rena Oiled Wildlife Recovery centre and new pens have just come on-line that will house the birds long-term while their environment is cleared of oil. The pens feature a shallow pool with ramps and two large standing spaces that can be alternately sectioned off for cleaning. The first birds were moved into the pens yesterday though wildlife specialist Danielle Sijbranda was also stationed inside the enclosure to help out if anything went wrong. “We get the occasional dumb penguin that has to be pushed towards the ramp (out of the water),” said center manager Brett Gartrell. Gartrell said the penguins were robust little birds that quickly became used to having humans around. Eventually the penguins would live in the enclosure day and night. With access to the water, rather than the half-hour daily swim they were getting at the moment, they would re-waterproof themselves much faster, Gartrell said.
Archive for October, 2011
As tempting as it is I’m not one to push the envelope of the holiday season any further than it presently is (which seems to be creeping towards Labor Day Weekend). Although it did snow a bit yesterday and there has been a whiff of Christmas in the commercial air, let’s face it folks. It’s not even Halloween yet. Still, that doesn’t mean that we need to ignore the before you know it holidays, and in that vein a steady stream of Christmas penguins haven’t been arriving at the Igloo the past few weeks. Boxed Christmas Cards, Ornaments, Stockings and Holiday Plush have all been arriving along with all our re-orders of penguin standards and classics. But, their time to shine will come soon enough so why push the season? It’s not like we don’t have 650 other non-holiday penguins in our inventory. So, prepare yourself folks because ready or not here we come on the day after Halloween. The 2011 holiday season.
A couple things I always thought was a natural for penguin merchandise was a penguin chess set and a penguin version of Monopoly. With so many species and sub-species it would be easy in incorporate penguins into both games. The only dilemma with the chess set would be turning the Emperor into and Empress, so you have a King and an Empress. As for Monopoly over the past two decades there’s been so many themes that have branched out from the original Atlantic City version of the game it seemed like only a matter of time before someone did a penguin version (and I’m not talking about the Pittsburgh Penguin kind). Now a company has finally created Penguin-Opoly and have done a fine job too. Tweaking the rules a bit, but the basic premise is still the same. There’s money and property and instead of passing go you pass waddle. I have a little problem of the players pieces being fish and not penguins, but all in all there are more than enough penguins in this board game box.
Sadly, unborn baby blue penguins are being sacrificed to save their oil-covered parents. The Penguin Posthas learned that conservation experts are facing heart-wrenching decisions in the wake of the Rena grounding – and rescuing penguins covered in oil means being unable to save eggs left behind in the nests.
It is breeding season for the 200-300 breeding pairs of little blue penguins in the Western Bay, most of which are incubating their eggs in nests and burrows along the coastline.
However, many parent penguins coming ashore in the evening to find their burrows have crossed rocks covered in thick tar-like oil and become oiled. Rebecca Bird, from World Wildlife Fund New Zealand, said removing an oiled penguin would give it a chance of survival but would also jeopardise the survival of its clutch. “We checked on the pair of little blue penguins in the ‘window nest’ a couple of nights ago and the mate was oiled so we had to take him away to the recovery centre to be looked after. Then the next night we found the other penguin was oiled and had to take her away. “We hope that the birds we recover will be rehabilitated successfully but it’s heartbreaking to know that saving them means their clutch won’t be reared,” she said. In an effort to save the clutch, the team placed the eggs with another pair of penguins. But the adoptive pair rejected them. Miss Bird is one of 140 field staff working as part of Maritime New Zealand’s oiled wildlife recovery team, under the guidance of Wildlife field operations manager Brent Stephenson. He said the decision to save adult penguins and leave the eggs had been tough and many people had a hard time accepting the decision. “Obviously, it’s not an easy thing for people to do but that was one decision we came to, based on all of the research that’s around. Adult penguins are a very important part of the population and they have a high survival rate in normal conditions. “The eggs and most of the young generally die in the first couple of years into adulthood so it was far more important to look after the adults,” he said. The team has been monitoring penguin burrows every day along Western Bay coastline since oil began washing up on Papamoa Beach. It has also focused on the rocky shoreline around Mauao, Leisure Island, Rabbit Island and Maketu Peninsula, where most of the penguins nest. Miss Bird said when team members found a penguin nest, they evaluated the birds and decided to remove them from their nest and eggs or else marked and checked them the next night. If they were covered in oil, they were taken back to the wildlife recovery centre in Te Maunga to be cleaned and rehabilitated. Local conservation volunteer Dave Richards said some penguins were abandoning their nests after losing their mate. “They stay on their nests until they figure out their mate isn’t coming back and eventually they’ll go and feed.” Last week, Mr Richards and other recovery team members were on Rabbit Island (Motuotau), checking penguin nests. He said they had been “inundated with oiled penguins”. “We were expecting the worst and we found 24 oiled penguins, seven dead, just in the landing bay. It’s not so good out here,” he said. “I never thought – it’s a relatively small amount of oil – and it’s already had such a devastating impact on the penguins. “It’s just heartbreaking.” Mr Richards said this year’s crop of young penguins would be much lower than in previous years. “But the good thing is that mum and dad are being saved and they’ll be released when it’s safe for them and they can get back to doing what penguins do, having more babies.” More than 300 little blue penguins have been rescued since the Rena grounded on Astrolabe Reef. Miss Bird said their chances of survival were high as they were resilient.
The Penguin Post has learned that the race is on to complete specialized penguin enclosures that will give hundreds of birds a new lease on life in New Zealand. By lunchtime today (Thursday) builders will have completed six specialized penguin enclosures, each measuring 6m x 9m. About a dozen builders, predominantly from DWYERtech Services, aim to finish four more enclosures by the end of next week for long-term care of the 314 penguins at the Wildlife Rescue Centre at Te Maunga. Each enclosure can house up to 30 penguins and includes a large pool where penguins can swim and play, as well as large communal areas where they can preen and feed. Wildlife Recovery Centre facility manager Bill Dwyer and his team began building the first penguin enclosure on Sunday and had begun five more since Tuesday.
He is in charge of deciding where buildings and tents will be erected at the Wildlife Recovery Centre – a role he’s had since Rena struck the Astroblabe Reef, leaking its fuel into the ocean three weeks ago. The enclosures are made with three tiers of materials – polyethylene plastic sheets layered underneath plastic pellets with a thin layer of tubing so it doesn’t hurt the penguins’ feet, Mr Dwyer said. Mr Dwyer said he wasn’t sure how long the penguins would remain inside the enclosures but they could be a long-term solution if necessary. “As long as there’s an issue with oil, these penguins can stay as long as they like,” he said. Until now the penguins have been living in small basket-like enclosures and moved to a pool to swim. Working on such a task has been a challenge, as Mr Dwyer has never made a penguin enclosure before but he said it was a rewarding experience. He is a member of the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre at Massey University in Palmerston North and worked in the wildlife recovery after the Jody F spill in 2002. However, on this occasion, there were a lot more birds to deal with than back then. “We didn’t know how to approach this so [we] drew up a plan and sort of went from there,” he said. The 314 penguins in the Wildlife Recovery Centre get fed twice a day and eat five to seven fish at each feeding.
They also have one swim a day. This lets them condition and preen their feathers, which is crucial to their re-waterproofing. Oiled Wildlife Response manager Kerri Morgan said it was important to monitor the penguin’s health and condition, especially at feeding times. “Correct feeding is a critical part of the rehabilitation process and our staff take great care when feeding the penguins,” Ms Morgan said. “We use either sprats or anchovies and need to ensure that none of the natural oils from the fish get on the birds’ feathers as this can damage their natural waterproofing.” Ms Morgan said it was too early to tell when the penguins could be released but the focus was on ensuring they were all healthy and well-nourished before being released back into the wild. She said all the penguins were “doing really well and have a great fighting spirit”. The centre now has 379 live birds in its care.
Recently, I had a bit of a dilemma regarding the pricing and shipping charges regarding our Rasta Imposta lightweight womens / teen penguin costumes. To be competitive with other on-line costume retailers I had marked my costumes down to a low $28.95, plus I was offering a 10% discount on top of this for Penguin Place fans on Facebook or my mailing list. But, we were only charging a flat rate $5.99 for shipping and the costume and its plastic display holder weighed in at 1.2 lbs. In the world of USPS Priority Mail any package more than a pound shipping west of the Mississippi is going to cost $9 plus to ship. I tried sneaking a few through claiming they were .15 lbs. and they were promptly rejected and required extra shipping charges. So, what to do? My costume mark-up was now razor thin and if I was to now lose money on shipping, then…well you get the picture. So how to get around this problem short of raising the price of the costumes. So, our solution was we decided to go lean and mean by taking the penguin costumes out of their packaging and mail them “naked” with just the receipt and wearing instructions. Without the plastic packaging the costumes weighed in at a slim down 15 ounces, and can now ship anywhere in the USA for less than $6. Mission accomplished, and we can only hope that no one got upset that their penguin costumes arrived with no packaging.
Fall 2011 is the unofficial season of anthropomorphized penguins. Don’t believe me? Between the penguin sweater craze and the release of Happy Feet 2, adorable penguins are everywhere. Now, a third entry into fall’s penguin lineup is here in the form of BulkyPix’s super-cute new game, Crazy Escape [99¢]. And this one answers the question on everybody’s mind: Can penguins drive tiny penguin cars, and if so, is it extra-adorable?
It’s a story as old as time itself: Two penguin buddies have to take to their Jeep (err, low-emission 4×4 of indeterminate branding, I should say) to save their sheep friends from being kidnapped and eaten by wolves. As these penguins race along the winding road, they must collect sheep, stars (ostensibly because penguins like shiny objects?), keys (to unchain locked-up sheep, of course!), and avoid stationary wolves, roaming wolves, chasing wolves – basically wolves of all kinds, all right?! You can run into fences (good) and trees (bad!), and the less road you cover to complete the level, the better. Your finger acts as a simultaneous road-creating device and penguin-steerer. You drag your finger across the screen to create the path your penguins take. Ideally, you devise the shortest route possible to collect your stars and sheep friends, as this results in the highest score.At first, it’s not particularly challenging because there’s no element of speed involved. However, as the game progresses, wolves start out on the road behind you, following your every movement, and if you dawdle too long you’ll be busted for sure. Additionally, things like oil slicks and trees get in your path which, if hit, cause you to swerve (at best) or force you to restart the level (at worst). Here’s hoping everyone was wearing their seat belts! The levels go by lightning-fast, so it’s perfect if you have a short attention span or a short period of time in which to play. The graphics are also pretty cute. However, as it’s a line-drawing game, the most important part is the drawing element. The worst part of so many drawing games is an imprecise, over-sensitive or otherwise less-than-ideal drawing mechanic. Luckily, that’s not the case with Crazy Escape. The drawing was perfectly in-sync with my finger; at times, perhaps a little too in-sync, as I have shaky hands (particularly when being chased by hungry wolves). My only real complaint is that on an iPhone or iPod touch screen, it’s hard to see what you’re doing. My chubby fingers kept blocking my view, which made it difficult to navigate around the increasingly challenging obstacles the game threw at me as I progressed. Still, I found this game to be extremely fun. For only a buck, there’s really no excuse to not download this one. You get a seemingly-endless number of levels and a fun diversion, and it’s Universal to boot. Besides, you don’t want to find yourself ill-prepared for the fall penguin craze, do you?
The Penguin Post has learned that the owner of a New Zealand knitting shop has been overwhelmed with donations of little penguin-sized “sweaters” to protect a number of the birds caught in a recent oil spill. The store, Skeinz, posted an appeal on its Yarn Kitchen blog on Oct. 11, asking volunteers to knit “small penguin PJs” to prevent the birds from preening their feathers and ingesting the oil. A complete set of instructions was included. Perhaps not realizing the popularity of penguins worldwide the store received hundreds of penguin sweaters within days. “As reported earlier, we do have critical mass of jumpers (sweaters),” read the blog entry last Monday. Then, the penguin sweater saga went viral, and the shop got 600 e-mails after it was featured on Good Morning America. Thursday’s update read, “The Wildlife Rescue Centre do not require any more jumpers, but if you have completed one, send it, as we have another rescue centre who has requested the surplus once the crisis has abated.’ The container ship Rena ran aground on a reef off New Zealand’s east coast on Oct. 6 and has spilled approximately 350 tonnes of fuel. Cleanup efforts are continuing and two crew members face charges.
The Penguin Post has learned that due to the generous outpouring of handknits by the penguin loving public, a Maritime New Zealand spokesman says wildlife centers now have more than enough penguin sweaters right at the moment, particularly with the warm weather they’ve been having the past few days, and with the short term forecast for more of the same. Considering the higher than usual temps the penguins may not even appreciate the woolies, says one bird-keeper at Auckland Zoo. “Putting something like that on a penguin, it’s probably only going to stress it out even more than they already are,” she told Bay of Plenty Times. “These are wild penguins, they haven’t had any interaction with humans. There’s already enough stress on a bird without trying to put a sweater on it.” So, with the penguins washed and cleaned and warmer than usual temps these penguins might not need their Fall fashion statements right now. Although all surplus sweaters will be kept in storage just in case they are needed again.