The Penguin Post has learned that the penguin whose break-out from an aquarium in Japan gave him a following around the world is to be formally named after months of being known just by his number, an official said yesterday.
Archive for June, 2012
The Penguin Post has learned that an intrepid Fiordland penguin that swam 2000 miles to Australia will soon be joined in her recovery at an animal rescue sanctuary by another wayfaring New Zealander – a seal pup. Animal sanctuary boss Aaron Machado said 2-year-old penguin Katrina, who has been recovering at the sanctuary in South Australia since washing up injured on a beach five weeks ago, was unlikely to welcome the new roommate in the 2000 square foot wetland enclosure. “She’ll be pissed off that I’ve put that ‘wet dog’ in there. She’s the queen of that place, she’s the boss.” The seal, named Emma, was recovering after surgery to remove rocks from her stomach, Machado said. “We’re getting overtaken by New Zealanders.” It was not unusual for New Zealand seals to be seen in Australian waters, he said. Katrina was making good progress, rebuilding muscles and tipping the scales at 7 just over pounds, almost double her rescued weight. “She’s still a grumpy little snot, but we love her anyway.” Staff were waiting a couple more weeks for Katrina’s feathers to grow back after surgery on a large gash to her abdomen. Once she was waterproof, she could be released into the wild. The signs were good so far, Machado said. He still wanted Katrina flown back to New Zealand, despite comments by Michelle Gutsell, Department of Conservation Te Anau office species recovery team leader, that the penguin had a good chance of making it under her own steam. But Machado worried current and wind conditions could push Katrina back to shore. Australian zoos were keen to secure Katrina, but he was determined to stop that happening. “We just want to get this penguin back where she belongs.”
The Penguin Post has learned that New Zealand scientists are preparing a study to solve one of nature’s great mysteries, the disappearance of a rapidly dwindling breed of penguin every winter. Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are being funded by the U.S.-based National Geographic to discover where the missing rockhopper penguins go in winter. A team of scientists will travel to the penguins’ breeding ground in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Campbell Island to attach 88 miniaturized tracking tags to penguins’ legs next year. “We don’t know where the penguins go during winter,” said NIWA scientist David Thompson. “It could be a crucial stage in the breeding cycle for them. To successfully raise chicks, they need to come back to Campbell Island at the start of the breeding season in good condition,” he said. “If they have a bad winter, they will come back to Campbell Island in poor condition. This stage of the annual cycle of the birds is likely to be very significant. To know nothing about where this stage takes place is a crucial gap in our understanding of the factors affecting the penguin populations.” From 1942 to 1985, the Rockhopper penguin population at Campbell Island declined from about 800,000 breeding pairs to just 51,000 pairs, and the decline had continued since. “They are unlikely to become extinct in the near future, but this represents a massive decline,” said Thompson. The data obtained from the tags would shed light on the winter movements, distribution and habitat use of Rockhopper penguins.
“I wouldn’t think they go too far, they clearly can”t fly, however they can swim pretty fast,” said Thompson. “They leave Campbell Island in April, and don”t reappear until early October. That gives them a few months to go exploring. I suspect they don”t go too far south, nor are they likely to go too far north. They probably stay at the same latitude, but disperse away from the island, spending that time feeding and regaining condition.” Diminished food stocks probably caused the falling population, he said. “They eat little krill, crustaceans, juvenile and small fish and small squid. They have quite a broad diet. It”s thought that fluctuations in sea temperatures may have led to a reduction in the abundance or availability of their prey,” said Thompson.
London’s Natural History Museum has unearthed a landmark study by George Murray Levick, a scientist with the ill-fated 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition, detailing the birds’ sexual shenaniganshave come to the Penguin Post. Homosexual acts, sexual abuse of chicks and even attempts by male penguins to mate with dead females are recorded in Levick’s paper “Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin”, which had been lost for decades.
Edwardian Englishman Levick was so horrified by his own findings that he initially recorded them in Greek to make them inaccessible to the average reader. Male penguins gather in “hooligan bands of half a dozen or more and hang about the outskirts of the knolls, whose inhabitants they annoy by their constant acts of depravity,” he later wrote in the paper in English.
To this day, Levick is the only scientist to have studied an entire breeding cycle at Cape Adare after he spent the Antarctic summer of 1911-12 there, the Guardian said. Captain Robert Scott and four others perished after reaching the South Pole on January 17, 1912 – only to find Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it more than a month earlier.
But Levick survived, despite having been forced with five others to spend an entire Antarctic winter in an ice cave with few supplies after the expedition ship, Terra Nova, was blocked by ice on its way to rescue them. Back in Britain, he published a paper called “Natural History of the Adelie Penguin”, but his findings about the species’ astonishing sexual behavior were considered so shocking that they were omitted.
This material was used for a short separate study, “Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin”, that was privately passed around a few experts. The groundbreaking paper – which came around 50 years ahead of the next study on the subject – had been lost until the recent discovery of a copy by Douglas Russell, curator of birds at the Natural History Museum.
Russell has had the paper published in the journal Polar Record along with an analysis of Levick’s work. Russell told the U.K. Sunday newspaper, The Observer, that the penguins’ sexual inexperience is to blame for the antics that so disgusted Levick. “Adelies gather at their colonies in October to start to breed. They have only a few weeks to do that and young adults simply have no experience of how to behave,” he explained. “Hence the seeming depravity of their behavior.”
The woman who started the Penguin Centre at Granite Island has pleaded with the thieves who stole two sick birds to return them.Granite Island Penguin Center co-ordinator Dorothy Longden, who helped establish the center in 2003 to care for sick or injured birds, said the stolen penguins were unlikely to survive without specialist care. Little Penguins Kennie and Alice were taken between 11.30am on Wednesday, May 30, and 4.30pm last Friday, police said. As told to the Penguin Post, Mrs Longden said thieves must be responsible after the Little Penguins – also known as Fairy Penguins – went missing from a vermin-proof enclosure from which it was impossible for the birds to escape. “We give up our time and we’ve given up our life to help these birds here and it’s a lovely experience for people who come from all over the world to see,” Mrs Longden said. “It is a very, very low act and we want them back… I would like to ask why they’ve taken them and to give them back, please. “If you want to be around penguins, come and help us here as volunteers.” Mrs Longden said she had hand-reared Alice, 5, and Kennie, 2, since they were chicks. “We’ve been walking around the island for the last three nights calling their names,” she said.
“(Alice) would come to meet me when called but we’ve had no luck. “All we have done is get cold and wet. She would be so scared.” Kennie and Alice, who require daily special dietary and vitamins needs, are unlikely to survive outside the care centre. “These are penguins that can’t be released,” Mrs Longden said. “They are found injured and brought here and they need specialist treatment. They are not going to survive.” Alice is micro-chipped and has a medical condition that forces her to limp. Kennie has been known to be aggressive and bite. Mrs Longden said the 11 remaining penguins at the centre were missing Kennie and Alice.
The Penguin Post has learned that two Fairy penguins, one with a limp and one that tends to bite, have been stolen from a specialist care center on South Australia’s Granite Island. Police said thieves broke into the center between May 30 and June 1 and stole five-year-old female Alice and two-year-old male Kennie. Alice is micro-chipped and has a medical condition called bumble foot which causes her to limp. While Kennie is described as aggressive and liable to bite. Police said both penguins had special dietary and vitamin needs and were undergoing rehabilitation on Granite Island, south of Adelaide.
The Penguin Post has been informed that a quartet of Magellanic penguin chicks have hatched this breeding season at the San Francisco Zoo, and will be on display until the end of June when they’ll head off to “Fish School,” zoo officials said. At Fish School, the penguins will learn to swim and be hand fed by zookeepers, one way for zoo staff to monitor the health of the penguin chicks. The penguins will return to their colony on Penguin Island at the end of July. The zoo’s Magellanic penguin colony is the largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins in any zoo or aquarium accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to zoo officials. Magellanic penguins are named because they are native to the Straight of Magellan in southern Chile, but can also be found in coastal Argentina, the Falkland Islands and even Brazil. When the chicks grow up, they could be as tall as thirty inches and weigh over 14 pounds. In the wild they feed on cuttlefish, sardines, squid, krill and other crustaceans. Magellanic penguins mate with the same partner every year, when the male reclaims the same burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his former partner. The female recognizes the male from his call. One chick that hatched on May 20 was born to penguin couple Bruno and Rizzo who were also born in the San Francisco Zoo.
With the Royal family and all of England getting ready for the festivities this weekend the Penguin Post has learned that a five-week-old penguin chick has waddled his way into the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Jubilee the penguin got in on the act after keepers at a wildlife park named him in honor of the Queen’s 60-year reign. The Humboldt penguin was the first chick of his kind to be born at Blair Drummond Safari Park in Stirlingshire for 12 years. He weighs just 23oz (650g) and stands 9in (23cm) tall – but seemed keen to show off his enthusiasm for the celebrations as he posed in front of a United Kingdom flag. He made a brief appearance from his nest to be weighed by keepers as first-time parents Billy and Sunny looked on warily. Both parents had been incubating the egg from when it was laid on March 13 until it hatched on April 28. They will rear the chick until it fledges in about three months. Jubilee will stay with his parents and the other four Humboldt penguins at the park. Park manager Gary Gilmour said: “The keepers have been keeping a very close eye on Jubilee and have been weighing the chick every day, to ensure acceptable weight gain. “Penguin chicks usually put on 10% of their body weight every day, so it was vital we know what Jubilee’s daily weight was.”