The Penguin Post has learned that in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Burger King is offering children an opportunity to name the one year-old Black-Footed Penguin living at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. The penguin, a native New Yorker, was born in Rochester New York. He was then donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society. This new promotion by Burger King, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society, is aimed at inspiring children’s imaginations and to also empower them to learn more about important causes and charities. Bertina Ceccarelli, the Executive Vice-President of Global Resources, Wildlife Conservation Society said, “Our partnership with Burger King Corp. has helped us educate young Americans about the importance of saving wildlife and wild places, while providing direct support for our conservation programs. The Black Footed Penguin is found only in Africa. Excellent swimmers, they can reach speeds of 15 mph and remain underwater for 2 1/2 minutes when they are hunting prey. Black-Footed penguins frequently swim jumping in and out of the water, which is referred to as “porpoising”. Traveling in groups, this largest species in the family of flightless birds, often venture 30 miles in search of a meal. On an average they live between 10-11 years with a record age of 24 years recorded. Their mating call resembles the sound of a donkey, so they are often called the “Jackass penguin”. With a population of over 5 million a hundred years ago, fisheries have since depleted the Black-Footed Penguin’s preferred prey and with their eggs considered a delicacy, it is estimated that only 55,000 still remain. As a result, they were listed as endangered under the U.S.A. Endangered Species Act in September, 2010. The deadline for submitting penguin names is right around the corner on Sunday, February 19, children wishing to participate, simply can login at Name the Penguin Contest. Burger King will post the top five names chosen by the Wildlife Conservation Society on February 20. Following the announcement, children are invited to return to the site and vote for their favorite names. The winning name will be revealed the week of March 5 at a special live naming ceremony held at the New York Aquarium. This partnered promotion provides both fun for kids and also presents a creative way for children to get involved in bringing the plight of the Black-Footed Penguin into public awareness. What do you think? Share your opinion in a comment.
Archive for February, 2012
A diamond may be a girl’s best friend, but in the African penguin world the females have far simpler tastes. It seems they’re extremely partial to sprigs of a plant found in many South African gardens: lavender, and the Penguin Post has learned that that’s certainly the case for the penguin guests at Shaka Sea World in Durban, South Africa. Here it seems the plant is not coveted for its oils or culinary qualities, but rather as part of the penguins courtship ritual, where male penguins will present their female perspective partners with sprigs of lavender, supplied by Sea World staff, as material with which to build their nests. In fact, this aromatic plant may have played a factor in the success of the breeding program at Sea World – more than 40 chicks between 2008 and 2011. The unusual practice – believed to be a world first – began four years ago at Shaka Sea World as part of an experiment to see which nesting materials penguins liked. Shaka Sea World director Judy Mann says the penguins are quite particular about their nests, so they usually spend quite some time searching for the right materials as they spend about 40 days sitting on the nest incubating their eggs. Incidentally, both the male and female are equally involved, and as we all know these penguins are monogamous. A staff member innocently suggested they add lavender to the nest making materials – and the rest is history. “The smell of the lavender calms the penguins down,” says Mann, “and lavender has some very strong antiseptic, anti-bacterial agents in it, so it helps to keep the nests clean – and (obviously) the penguins love it.” Mann says they’ve shared their lavender success story with other scientists at two international conferences. “And whether the lavender has helped our breeding program success we’re not sure, but it certainly seems to be one of the factors. “Love is in the air and lavender is helping. “So penguin loving guys, you may have a new strategy in your own courtship ritual – lavender.
The Penguin Post has learned that for the third year in a row, the Cal Academy of Sciences hosted a Valentine’s party for their African penguin colony. Members of the public were invited to write Valentine messages on non-toxic cardboard heart-shaped cards for the birds. Biologist Brooke Weinstein said the penguins love the cards for nest-building purposes and welcome the event as a change of pace. One of the penguins, (generally the male of the bird-couple) will waddle over and take the card out of the biologist’s hand, then return to their cave, adding it to the nest. The birds are always working on their nests, and sometimes will even take to retrieving starfish from the bottom of the tank to use as nest-building material, but today it’ll be red hearts with messages of love.
The Penguin Post has learned that staff at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium in China have decided to put on a show for visitors by setting up a wedding for a loving penguin couple, named Xiaobai and Xiaoxue. To add to the spectacle, the two Humboldt penguins were carried from their enclosure to the wedding ceremony in a miniature remote-controlled car, and rather than wedding rings for their flippers, the love-up pair were given flowers to put around their necks. Excited visitors to the zoo then gathered to take pictures of the newlywed penguins and the spectacular ceremony. One of the penguin keepers said: ‘First of all, Valentine’s Day is coming up and we can feel this festival approaching us. Our aquarium, looking from the viewpoint of our marine species, decided to stage a wedding for this penguin couple. They are one of the few in the animal kingdom that are monogamous, which is similar to us, human beings. So we hope that through this event, everyone will feel love is in the air.’ We certainly do. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.
The Penguin Post has learned that penguin lovers from around the world have been flocking to an upstate New York zoo’s name the penguin part of their website to help name a Humboldt penguin chick hatched last month. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse has released the top 10 girl and boy names from among 1,100 suggestions offered from the U.S. and a list of countries including Germany, Brazil, Singapore, Ecuador and Finland. Because the Humboldts breed off Peru and Chile, judges gave Spanish names a preference. The finalists? Alberto (all-BER’-toh), Caio (KAYE’-oh), Fausto (FOWS’-toh), Inigo (in-EE’-go), Mauricio (mohr-EETS’-ee-oh), Cataleya (cot-uh-LEH’-uh), Eva (EH’-vuh), Hota (HO’-tuh), Isabelita (ees-UH’-buh-lee-tuh) and Solana (so-LAW’-nuh). Zoo spokesman Lorrell Walter says Thursday they made two lists because the chick’s gender hasn’t been determined. The little penguin hatched on Jan. 9, the first of six this year and among 30 born since a breeding program started in 2005. Votes on the finalists are due by Feb. 16.
A penguin visited a nursing home on Wednesday, and as we all know by now that penguins name is ROAST BEEF. In a wonderful penguin story that just keeps on giving, Roast Beef, a 13-year-old African penguin, is specially trained to make appearances at community events — but those appearances usually involve youths. This was Roast Beef’s first-ever visit to a nursing home. The 5-pound little guy wowed about 60 residents of the Hannah Duston Rehabilitation Center in Haverhill, Mass, and deeply moved nursing-home staffers, visitors and his own aquarium handlers at the same time. “Upon leaving, our penguin biologist ran into a person who has both parents [in the nursing home] for Alzheimer’s,” said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium where Roast Beef lives. “That person told the biologist, ‘I saw a sparkle in my parents’ eyes that I haven’t seen in a long, long time.’” Workers at the New England Aquarium got the idea to visit the Hannah Duston Rehabilitation Center after receiving a letter and artwork from one of its residents. Sandra Sterling, a former Miss Massachusetts from the 1950s, painted a poster of several species of penguins and wrote about how much she loved the tuxedoed birds. LaCasse said Sterling’s letter and paintings ultimately led to a “Eureka” moment at the aquarium. “Everybody loves penguins — it doesn’t matter how old you are!” he said. Sterling got to meet Roast Beef on Wednesday — (“She looks stunning,” LaCasse noted) — and dozens of other residents and onlookers got to see the cheerful bird up close. LaCasse explained to the Penguin Post what it takes for aquarium workers to get Roast Beef ready for an outing: “When it’s time to go, he’ll swim right over and hop right into a plastic carrier — like the kind you put a cat in,” LaCasse said. “He’ll be quite happy about it. And then we assemble his mobile cube.”
For the duration of his outings, Roast Beef stays inside a special, air-conditioned cubicle with toys inside to keep him occupied. Handlers don’t let him leave the cubicle during community events.
“It’s for people’s safety,” LaCasse said. “Penguins are adorable, but they have sharp beaks and they can projectile poop at any time. When we go out into the public we don’t want that to happen to anybody.”
For the first time, penguins that normally live in the freezing cold in and around Antarctica can be found in the scorching Middle East. And that’s ruffling some feathers, with some animal rights activists crying foul. In Dubai’s humid desert — with its 120-degree summer heat — a colony of penguins now lives a long way, in every way, from Antarctica. They’re transplants, 20 penguins in all, bred in captivity and newly-arrived from Sea World San Antonio. Their new home is a mammoth indoor ski facility called Ski Dubai, on the Arabian Peninsula. Visitors can see penguins up close, touch them, and even swim with them. “The whole objective of the program is to raise awareness about those wonderful creatures and about the environment,” says Omar Al-Banna, the marketing director at Ski Dubai, “and what people should do and what they shouldn’t do about the penguins and the environment.” The new arrivals will live in climate-controlled cool and be pampered like sheikhs. They won’t have to hunt for fish. A staff of 13 people — part minders, part butlers — will serve them restaurant-quality dishes. Vets will see them every two weeks. And there’s not a predatory seal in sight. Still, some animal rights critics complain this exhibits distorts the true penguin experience in the wild, both for the birds and their visitors. But, asks the Penguin Post aren’t these penguins born and raised in San Antonio? Not, exactly the South Pole. “These are ice animals and climate change and other issues impact them,” says Humane Society International Vice President Kitty Block. “Does it educate people about the plight of these animals? So, if it’s not educating and it’s just entertainment, well then, there is a concern about that.” But the exhibit’s organizers compare penguins to animal ambassadors that will now represent their species — and flaunt their charm — to a region that might otherwise never see them.
It’s been almost a year since thousands of endangered penguins’ lives were threatened by an oil spill on Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. A survey to assess the birds’ population has now taken place. When the bulk carrier, MS Oliva, ran aground on 16 March last year, a huge effort to rescue the penguins was launched. The ship was traveling from Brazil to Singapore with a cargo of 65,000 tons of soya beans and 1,500 tons of bunker fuel when it ran aground. As the ship broke up in the rough seas, the soya and oil were discharged into the waters around Nightingale Island, part of Tristan da Cunha. In the days that followed, the oil reached Inaccessible Island, a World Heritage Site, and Tristan more than 30km away.With the group of islands being home to over 65 per cent of the global population of endangered Northern Rockhopper Penguins, residents of Tristan da Cunha, known as Tristanians and the Tristan Conservation Department, followed by staff from the RSPB and Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), came together and moved quickly to collect and clean up the oiled birds and prevent many more from coming into contact with the oil. Although efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the penguins were huge, it has been unknown until now just how much the rockhopper population has been affected by the spill. The Penguin Post is happy to report that results from the latest counts suggest the breeding population hasn’t suffered as much as anticipated, but scientists are warning that the news should be met with caution. Dr Juliet Vickery, the RSPB’s Head of International Research, said: “It’s a big relief that the initial results of the counts are better than we had anticipated. We should not, however, relax our watch. There is much we don’t know about this species and the extent to which breeding colony counts reveal the true picture of population trends is hard to ascertain. Though the immediate impact is not as bad as we feared, there may be longer term sub-lethal effects reducing breeding success, so it is vital that we continue to monitor the birds closely for several more years to establish the true impact of the oil spill.” Estimations show approximately 154,000 rockhoppers bred on the island in 2011 but estimates in the 1950s suggest there were ‘millions’ of birds, with two million pairs on Gough alone. The species remains globally threatened and the causes of the historic decline remain unknown. As well as the long-term effects on the penguins, the oil spill has caused concern for the important Rock Lobster fishery. The fishery, which is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery, is a
mainstay of the island’s economy. The latest evidence shows that catches are way below normal and rotting soya has been spotted on the traps. A dive survey showed that the wreck had broken up considerably over the winter months. On the advice of experts the Nightingale fishery has closed and the quota for the fishery at Inaccessible Island was reduced from 92 to 53 tons for the 2011/12 season. After the disaster, the RSPB launched an emergency appeal to raise funds to help with the clean up. The appeal has raised almost £70,000 and will be used to support penguin monitoring, strengthen the island’s bio-security, and facilitate rodent control on Tristan to reduce risk of rats being introduced to Nightingale. Katrine Herian works for the RSPB on the island, was involved in the clean-up mission last year, and helped carry out the counts. She said: “Something really needs to be said about the huge Tristanian efforts in response to this disaster – without them, this could have been a very different story. While the true impact of the spill won’t be known for some time yet, we can at least know that everything that could be done was done.”
The Penguin Post has learned about a unique penguin ambassador that may be waddling to a school or event near you (if you live in the Boston area). Later this week residents of the Hannah Duston Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in Haverhill Massachusetts, will be getting a visit from a very special tuxedoed gentleman, Roast Beef the African penguin. He resides at the New England Aquarium, but his real gig is being a specially trained penguin ambassador, spreading smiles and penguin cheer on his outings to schools and community events. The five-pound penguin even travels in his own special air-conditioned crate. This will be Roast Beef’s first time at a nursing home, but aquarium officials aren’t worried because, they say, “Penguins are clearly loved by people of all ages.” Clearly. It’s bound to be a magical visit, since Roast Beef’s nickname is “The Ladies Man.”