Here’s a Penguin Post look at some penguin progress at Tampa’s Lowery Park Zoo. Only once every two days, and for just a few minutes each time, the penguin chick is scooped from beneath its parents, to be weighed and photographed and given a look at the world outside its nest box. Zookeeper Christine Rogers reached in last Thursday, wearing gloves in anticipation of a biting father, and emerged with a gray bird not much bigger than her hand, with feathers so small, they looked like fuzz. Hatched Dec. 7, at a weight just under 2 ounces, the chick has fattened to more than a pound. It has begun to crawl, but cannot stand. It does not yet have a name, or a distinct personality. Even its sex, pending a blood test, is undetermined. Despite all the unknowns, the baby’s life plan was etched long before birth: To help prevent the extinction of the African penguin in as little as 15 years. The chick descended from a line of penguins rescued from a South African oil spill about a decade ago. Decimated by water pollution and commercial fishing, the species is barely hanging on. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits Lowry Park Zoo, has established a “Species Survival Plan” to keep track of African penguins in captivity and recommend ideal genetic pairings for strong offspring. Matchmaking is tricky. Penguins are monogamous, and over the past two years, the Lowry Park Zoo had to break up three established couples. But the arranged marriages worked. In 2011, the zoo welcomed its first-ever penguin chicks — three of them — growing the zoo’s group to 17. Taki, a girl hatched in May, loves the company of people. And Marini, a boy hatched in February, is a loner who recently made his first friend, a penguin bachelor named Titan. One day, next spring or summer, Taki and Marini will begin to eat lots of food, get bowling-ball round, and lose all feathers. For a while, they’ll appear to sport awkward buzz cuts. But before long, fancy feathers will grow in. Then, in a few months, each will join a betrothed in another zoo — Taki at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, and Marini, at the Georgia Aquarium. Plans have yet to be made for the new chick, whose only responsibility right now is to continue to grow under the dark warmth of parents.
Archive for December, 2011
Looking for something to do while you have a couple of days off in Philadelphia? While the “City of Brotherly Love” snowless streets may not look very much like winter, but the Penguin Post has learned that Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing has installed some ice sculptures to entice skaters into a seasonal mood. Artists have created a set of penguins from 300-lb. blocks of ice using chain saws and power tools.
The Penguin Post has learned that once again this New Year’s Day, hundreds of penguins (the human type of penguin) are taking a dip into the very cold (40 degree) Atlantic ocean on the shores of Maryland for the 18th Annual Penguin Swim. This penguin plunge is held to raise funds for the local not-for-profit Atlantic General Hospital. Last year, 900+ penguins took that icy plunge and hundreds more watched them as they shivered through the dip. A costume contest is also being held for the most creative (read: crazy) outfits. Don’t worry all you non-costumed Penguins, if you raise $25 or more, you’ll go home with an incentive prize. All Penguins are to meet at the Princess Royale at 91st St. (Ocean City) at 1:00p.m. New Years Day. Registration and incentive pick-up for the swim begins at 11:30a.m. New Years Day at the Princess Royale atrium. Pick up your prizes early and turn in your money with pre-registration. Pre-registration is available from 2p.m. -4p.m. the day before the event at Princess Royale.
A bit of good holiday penguin news as the Penguin Post has learned that Little Blue penguins are flocking back to Warrnambool’s Middle Island in South Eastern Australia with the biggest influx since the population was almost wiped out by predators six years ago. An estimated 190 little penguins have arrived for the annual breeding season and at least 17 chicks and nine eggs have been counted so far. Maremma guardian dogs Eudy and Tula have also returned to the island to protect the colony from foxes and roaming dogs. More than 600 penguins and short-tailed shearwaters once lived on Middle Island, near Warrnambool’s breakwater, but dog and fox raids reduced penguin numbers to less than 10 by 2005. Warrnambool City Council and the local Coastcare Landcare group swung into action to help restore the population, with an award-winning Maremma dog project as the centerpiece. City council officer Justin Harzmeyer said the dogs had been returning to the island every year since the first four-week trial in 2006. He visits the island twice a day to feed and monitor the dogs. “It puts our minds at ease knowing the Maremmas are back there watching over them,” he said. Mr Harzmeyer said he was thrilled to see penguin numbers on the rise. Middle Island has been closed to the public since 2009, but now there will be opportunities this summer to see the birds up close.
The Penguin Post has learned that a family came home Christmas Eve to find someone had swiped their beloved inflatable penguin – right from their doorstep in west suburban Montgomery, Illinois. Kim Mattern said the “fat little penguin’’ stands about 6-feet-tall and 4-feet-wide and stood outside next to the front door as part of the family’s holiday decorations. She, her husband Joshua and their two kids left their home at in the 0-99 block of Woodcliff Road in Montgomery about 1 p.m. Sunday to attend a family holiday party. When they returned about 8 p.m., the penguin was gone. Her 2-year-old and 6-year-old became “very upset,’’ but Mattern said they were honest with them and told them the penguin had been stolen. Nothing else was taken and they initially purchased the item for about $50. The Kendall County Sheriff’s office reported no similar robberies occurring in the neighborhood, she said. The penguin hasn’t been found. “On Christmas…that’s the part that bothers us the most, that it’s Christmas,’’ said Mattern. Not even the Grinch would stoop this low.
With not a snowflake in sight here at Penguin Place HQ in usually snowy Northampton, Mass on December 25, it’s good to know that at least someone is pretty much guaranteed to have a White Christmas. However, if you wanted to enjoy the snow with these Emperor penguins you would have to travel a few thousand miles and end up a very far indeed from “civilization”. But, I couldn’t think of a more beautiful way to spend Christmas.
To all our Jewish penguin loving friends. Yes, it is sad that the penguin Hanukkah Menorah is no more, but here’s a wonderful picture of a Jewish Penguin for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy the first of 8 nights of penguin presents.
The Penguin Post has learned that it appears Canada’s beloved gay penguin couple has split up. Buddy and Pedro made international headlines earlier this year when the Toronto Zoo had to separate them to encourage them to mate with female penguins. Buddy succeeded, but Pedro didn’t seem to have any luck, the Guardian reported. In the midst of that, the formerly close penguins began fighting across their respective nests, the Toronto Star reported. The injuries could have been quite serious if there wasn’t mesh netting separating the cages, the newspaper reported. “It’s a common male trait. They set territory around a nest,” said Tom Mason, a zoo official. While there was no actual proof that the penguins were gay, they drew worldwide fans and even a petition on Change.org asking the zoo not to separate them. Now, their fans seem to have trouble accepting the star-crossed love may have fizzled on it’s own. On their fake Twitter accounts, the penguins denied they were separating. “No TV in here. Probably just more awful rumors about @BuddyPenguin anyway,” Pedro the Penguin tweeted.
It’s the RIP time of the year for many a beloved penguin goodie here at Penguin Place, with the last of discontinued penguin items waddling out the door. In the past 10 days alone we’ve lost penguin oven mitts, hair scrunchie, kids sunglasses, cool knit pilot hats, reversible totes, Puffsicle plush, penguin bowling game, 3-D luggage tags, bathtub buddy, Wildkin backpack, 4 port USB hub, black penguin socks, penguin toilet handles, kids books, earrings, two piece loungewear sets, cufflinks and penguin chicks garden flags. This is just in the past week, so if there’s a penguin you’re thinking about and it’s in stock act now for tomorrow may be too late. Some may be back in 2012, but most are gone for good. RIPP (Rest In Peace Penguins).