Posts Tagged ‘Gentoo Penguins’
Detroit is known to be the home of Tigers and Lions (think baseball and football), but now the Penguin Post has learned that the Detroit Zoo will be home to the largest center in the U.S. dedicated to penguins, thanks to the most substantial private donation in its 85-year history, the zoo announced Wednesday.
Construction on the $21 million facility will begin “in earnest” in March and is expected to open in late 2015, said Ron Kagan, the zoo’s executive director and CEO. “We don’t think there is anything comparable,” Kagan said at a news event that featured a 3-D film and “snow” that fell on attendees. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest … facility that is entirely dedicated to penguins.”
The 24,000-square-foot center is being made possible, in part, by the biggest private donation in the zoo’s history, $10 million given by Stephen Polk and his family. Polk is vice chair of the zoo’s board and a longtime executive with automotive information provider R.L. Polk & Co. The facility will carry the name The Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center. Kagan said the zoo still needs to raise $8 million to reach the $21 million total.
The exterior of the center will look like an iceberg. Inside, visitors will have the opportunity to see the seabirds “deep dive” in a chilled 310,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area. It is something that can’t be seen anywhere else, even in nature, the zoo said. “Penguins will literally be doing laps around us,” said Kagan, who took several research trips to Antarctica, including this past January. The feature is deeper and larger than the pool at the Arctic Ring of Life, one of the zoo’s main attractions in which polar bears swim above visitors. The center, which will be home to 80 penguins of four species — rockhopper, macaroni, king and gentoo — is to be built on a 2.1-acre site near the entrance to the zoo, which is in suburban Royal Oak. Officials said the penguins’ habitat will be optimal for the animals’ welfare and encourage wild behavior, including diving, nesting and rearing young. The facility also will feature simulated Antarctic blasts, rough waves and snow. It has been in the planning and design phase for two years and represents the largest project the zoo has ever undertaken. Kagan said it is fitting that the center will be at the Detroit Zoo, “which in the mid-’60s created the first Penguinarium of any zoo anywhere.”
The Penguin Conservation Center was designed by Jones & Jones, the architects behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life.
The Penguin Post has learned that the Edinburgh Zoo’s new penguin enclosure is set to reopen to the public following a $900,000 revamp. The outdoor pool, called Penguins Rock, offers improved viewing areas for people visiting one of the zoo’s most popular species. For the penguins themselves, the attraction has mock sandy beaches and rocky areas, a waterfall feature, a water shoot and a diving board made out of carved rock. The development also includes a “state-of-the-art” filtration system for the 1.2m litres of water it holds.
Colin Oulton, team leader for birds at the zoo, said: “The new enclosure is a wonderful addition to our visitor attraction and perfect for our penguins. “The birds, both returning and new, have settled in very quickly to the Penguins Rock. “In fact, breeding season will shortly be here and many of our returning birds are already claiming their favorite nesting spots.” Bosses said the existing pool had served the zoo’s large colony of penguins well for more than 20 years but it was starting to need some work behind the scenes, so it made sense to combine it with a visual overhaul.
Darren McGarry, head of living collections, said the animals have been getting used to their refurbished enclosure in recent weeks. “Our penguins have been reintroduced back into their home over the last few weeks, with the 28 gentoos and 27 rockhoppers that remained at Edinburgh Zoo going in first,” he said. “It was a pleasure to see the birds start to interact with the new features of their enclosure – trying out the water slide and sticking their beaks into their new waterfall. The waterfall has actually proved to be a real hit with the gentoo’s. “Next, a week later, came gentoo birds that had been staying in Belfast and Denmark, and there was lots of calling out as birds definitely recognized old friends. “As well as old faces returning, we also welcome a mix of new one and two-year-old gentoos to Edinburgh Zoo as it is important to keep genetic diversity within populations.
“We are really looking forward to see the reactions of our visitors as they see our new enclosure and see our famous black and white birds enjoy all its new features, the mock sandy beach, the clear aqua blue water and creative bird themed interpretation, to name just a few of exciting changes. “However, it is the opportunity to feel so close to the birds due to the new lowered sightlines, and glass barriers and wood perimeters, that we particularly hope people will be thrilled with.” The new enclosure opens to the public on Thursday.
The Penguin Post has learned that penguins in the Calgary Zoo have been able to escape from their enclosure and are contacting people outside their water tank which has raised questions from an animal rights group. Zoo officials say some of their Gentoo penguins have leapt from their watery habitat and shared floor space with onlookers.
One video shot by a zoo-goer shows a penguin on the viewer gallery floor mixed up in peoples’ legs. It’s a situation that should be viewed with caution, given the risk the penguins could be stressed by coming into contact with humans, said Rob Laidlaw of the group Zoocheck Canada. “It’s not a good idea for members of the public to make contact with the animals,” said Laidlaw. But Laidlaw, whose group has been sharply critical of the zoo in the past, wasn’t about to condemn the organization for how it operates its penguin exhibit. “They’re probably trying to determine whether or not this really works,” he said. “There’s concerns when people are able to access animals but not in every case…I haven’t seen their exhibit yet.” He said the Gentoo penguin’s outgoing nature might make them less vulnerable to harm from such activity. The Gentoos are among 46 penguins first exhibited at the zoo last February. The penguin exhibit was designed after one at the St. Louis Zoo and tailored to provide a more free-ranging space for the birds, said Animal Care Curator Jamie Dorgan. “Technically, the whole building is kind of their enclosure — the public pathway is part of the exhibit,” he said. Penguins do occasionally escape the core of their enclosure, bordered by a short plexiglass wall, during business hours, said Dorgan, but more commonly at nighttime. Staff are there to monitor the crowd to prevent the birds being touched, but the zoo considers the open concept a good one for both animals and humans. “It connects people a lot more with the animals and with our conservation efforts,” said Dorgan, comparing the environment to the zoo’s rainforest aviary when birds fly free. The penguins, he adds, were born in and transferred from other zoos and have only known the presence of humans. “We don’t see any signs of stress,” he said. But he said if any changes to the present set-up are required in the future, they’ll be made. Zoo officials say exhibits that include four species of penguins have been hugely popular and will likely be seen by 1.2 million people this year.
The Penguin Post has learned that the Belfast Zoological Gardens had a flurry of new birds recently with the hatching of five penguin chicks.
In March this year, Belfast Zoo welcomed 40 Edinburgh penguins to the penguin enclosure, while essential maintenance work was carried out to their Edinburgh pool.
It seems all the world loves a good “gay” penguin story and this tale of penguin bromance is no exception. But, this heartwarming story has a slightly different twist than your usual gay penguin fare. The Penguin Post has learned that after six years of being together this pair of wannabe penguin dads, are actually going to be dads! Their instinctive wish to have a family after a half dozen years of building nests for naught has finally come true after keepers at their home in Madrid’s Fainia Zoo in Spain made a very special delivery of an egg to the stone, grass and moss nursery nest the penguins had carefully prepared. The unique male Gentoo penguins called Inca and Rayas have reportedly welcomed their future offspring into their home with open wings. Like clockwork, every spring since 2006 the pair have carefully constructed a nest together in preparation for their new addition, but as they were both male penguins an egg obviously never appeared. So sadly year after year they were forced to watch from the sidelines as other mating couples doted on their new additions. So when zookeepers needed to find a home for an extra egg this year they decided to give desperate dads their shot at fatherhood. And the delight of the keepers and Inca and Rayas the penguins natural paternal instincts kicked in straight away. Inca is carrying out the traditional ‘female’ duty of keeping the egg warm by sitting on it. Partner Rayas is standing guard over the nest, gobbling down fish to be regurgitated at a later date to feed the new hungry mouth. The imminent arrival of the baby penguin next month has, according to keepers, put Rayas a little on edge, but what couple (human or penguin) hasn’t experienced this? It also seems to have had the desired effect of keeping the relationship alive between the penguins. Yolanda Martin, who looks after the penguins at Faunia Park, emphasized that the penguins are not gay, just very good friends that have formed a strong bond. She said: ‘We wanted them to have something to stay together for – so we got an egg. Otherwise they might have become depressed.’ Twitter users have been flocking to congratulate the pair and the heart-warming story has provided a welcome break from the economic doom and gloom filling the recent Spanish news pages. It is not the first time that a pair of male penguins has been given an egg to look after. Last year in China two male penguins called Adam and Steve were given a young chick to care for because its mother was struggling to juggle caring for three chicks. Adam was even dressed in a tie and Steve a red blouse for a marriage ceremony. There was also Roy and Silo at New York’s Central Park zoo who were given a rejected egg after trying to hatch a stone. Meanwhile Canadian penguins Buddy and Pedro were put in separate enclosures at Toronto Zoo because keepers felt they were not making a contribution to the gene pool. It seems all the world’s press love reporting about “gay” penguins and this is no exception, although in these cases the penguins are not actually gay. They’re more like the best of friends, living cooperatively because they’re in the same enclosure. “When you put things in captivity, odd things happen,” says Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y. “The way penguins work is they do get paired for a long time. Basically, the only other penguin they care about is their mate, so it’s important for them to find somebody who’s compatible, and if you don’t have a normal upbringing then it’s difficult to say how ‘normal’ they can be.” In the case of Inca and Rayas the duo has enthusiastically taken to the roles of prospective parents. Inca has taken on the “female” role, spending his days devotedly sitting on the egg, according to the paper. Rayas has taken the “male” role, guarding the nest and storing food in his beak as he prepares to feed the chick with regurgitated fish. “In birds, it doesn’t matter what sex you are. Both sexes are perfectly capable and absolutely necessary to raise a penguin bird,” McGowan said. “It’s not like mammals where only one sex can feed.” So, good luck Inca and Rayas, we can’t wait till the hatching.
The Summer Olympics will be here sooner than you think and the London Zoo’s flock of penguins appear to be gearing up for the festivities by practicing their dives from their new Olympic size diving board. The penguins are used to plopping into the water, but recently the colony of 64 penguins at the Zoo now have a new vantage point from which to take the penguin plunge. Their very own diving board was erected at Penguin Beach to celebrate the zoo being awarded the LOCOG’s Inspired by 2012 mark for its summer Animal Athletes program. One might think the penguins to be more of a winter sport kind of bird, but it seems that the Summer sports of swimming and diving (sans speedo’s) are what they’re best at. Now, the sporty birds will now be able to practice their diving skills and entertain crowds who visit the penguin pool – but judging by their technique, Olympic hopefuls have little to worry about – just yet.
As the Antarctic Peninsula warms, penguins that live in the area year-round have a breeding advantage over birds that migrate in. Gentoo penguins live on the Antarctic Peninsula year-round, and their numbers are increasing while migratory chinstrap and Adelie penguins are dwindling in the area. New research by Stony Brook University researcher Heather Lynch reveals that Gentoo penguins have adapted to warmer temperatures faster than the other two species. Using field work and satellite imagery, Lynch and her colleagues tracked colonies of the three penguin species. They found that warming temperatures triggered penguins to lay their eggs earlier in the season than normal. Gentoos are able to adapt more quickly because they’re locals, the researchers found. Adelie and Chinstrap penguins aren’t aware of the local temperatures until they migrate into the area, meaning they can’t shift their breeding as dramatically. Gentoo penguins may also have an advantage because they prefer areas with less sea ice than chinstrap and Adelie penguins. The latter two species rely more on ice-loving krill as their food source. A long-term study of penguins published in 2011 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that krill density is down as much as 80 percent since the mid-1970s. Krill depend on algae growing on sea ice for food. Also in 2011, researchers reported that a small colony of West Antarctic Peninsula Emperor penguins had disappeared in 2009 after about three decades of stability. Warming is also bringing other changes to the southernmost continent, including colonization by king crabs.
A penguin parade with a difference will take place tomorrow as 29 Gentoo penguins move to a new home within the Edinburgh Zoo. The Penguin Post has learned that the birds will be carried by a team of animal keepers from the normal penguin enclosure to their new home for the next few months. One bird per keeper, the unusual 15 minute parade will wind up at Barbary Rock, the old rock hyrax enclosure, which has been converted into a temporary home for the zoo’s remaining Gentoos. Edinburgh Zoo’s penguin enclosure is currently the focus of an intensive maintenance and upgrade program which will take a couple of months. Essential maintenance work is also being carried out on the penguin pool. The necessary work means that Edinburgh Zoo’s penguin colony of Kings, Rockhoppers and Gentoos have been split up for a short time. A third of the penguin colony remains atEdinburghand the remaining birds have been temporarily re-housed in other experienced zoos. Colin Oulton, Bird Team Leader at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Although it will be an extraordinary site to see 29 keepers walking through Edinburgh Zoo each with a Gentoo penguin tucked under their arm, it’s actually the quickest and kindest way to carry out the move. Transferring the penguins in this way means the birds will be handled only once and that the move will be carried out in a matter of minutes.
Transferring the penguins in this way means the birds will be handled only once and that the move will be carried out in a matter of minutes. Barbary Rock even has the addition of a new pool, recently created for our Gentoo birds, so we’re sure our penguins will be happy in their new home. And, as Gentoo breeding season is almost here, pebbles and nest rings will be added to the new enclosure next week after the penguins have had time to settle in. “We don’t know if they will breed, but many of the birds are starting to show typical breeding behavior, and we have purposely kept established pairs of penguins together.” Visitors are invited to see Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive, and Iain Valentine, Head of Conservation and Research, lead the p-p-pick up a penguin parade today – Wednesday 21st March – at 10.30am at the Edinburgh Zoo.
The Penguin Post has learned that in Edinburgh, Scotland some Gentoo penguins are preparing to leave their Scottish zoo home and fly halfway around the world to western Canada. No, they’re not migrating. These gentoo penguins are be carefully loaded into specially built kennels and, under the supervision of a Calgary Zoo boss, make their way across the ocean via cargo plane. In Calgary, they’ll eventually be joined by three other species of the waddling black and white birds from various zoos across the United States and Canada in their new Calgary Zoo digs: Penguin Plunge. Five years after it was first announced, the $24.5-million exhibit is now due to open in less than six weeks. Zoo officials are hoping everything will be in place to open Penguin Plunge to the public in time for the Family Day long weekend in mid-February.
The display is a scaled-back version of the massive Arctic Landing plan first envisioned in 2006. That $100-million proposal included bringing polar bears and beluga whales, and included a plan for an outdoor body of water the size of a football field. Zoo critics were quick to lambaste the Calgary facility over animal welfare concerns. In the end, it was the price tag – which more than doubled at the height of Calgary’s boom when planning was still in early stages – that sunk Arctic Landing.
Today, the zoo has high hopes for the penguins.
Penguin Plunge has indoor and outdoor homes for the birds where visitors can watch the penguins swim, slide and gobble up fish and squid. It features rocky outcroppings, splashing water fountains and a deep chilly pool.
Inside, light projected on the domed ceiling is programed to glow like Aurora Australis. Visitors enter into a walk-through exhibit with Plexiglass walls where the penguins swim right past. The pathway has a viewing area, too, where the birds can paddle by underneath. Up to 50 penguins from four species – gentoo, king, rockhopper and the endangered Humboldt – will take up residence in the new display. It’s one of the most technically complex exhibits at the zoo. After a string of deaths and animal mishaps prompted a fiery reproach of the Calgary collection in 2010, zoo officials say they’ve been thorough in their homework and are ready to welcome the lovable flightless birds to the city.”They’re obviously endearing animals,’ said zoo spokeswoman Laurie Skene. They’re charismatic animals but there’s a bigger story to tell.” That story – information about global warming and the imminent threats facing some species of penguins – will be told through an educational component tied to the display. The four penguin species were chosen in part because the Calgary facility can provide a healthy environment and proper care for them, said Skene. But another part of the decision is the conservation role the zoo hopes to embrace. Humboldts are particularly threatened, while Rockhoppers are beginning to face new challenges to survival, she said. “Modern zoos are becoming sort of the Noah’s Arks of keeping genetic diversity going for some species that are not now facing extinction in the wild,” said Skene. Animal welfare groups say they’re concerned the zoo is more focused on cashing in on penguins’ cute factor, buoyed by crowd-pleasing films such as Happy Feet (starring Emperor penguins) and Mr. Popper’s Penguins (featuring gentoo birds). Of the four species coming to Calgary, for example, only the King penguins spend long periods in cold weather, noted Barry Kent MacKay, Canadian representative of Born Free USA. He said he hoped the Calgary Zoo gave correct information about each species true habitat rather than a “cartoonish” version. Important issues, such as food shortages caused by overfishing or oil spills, should be addressed in the display, he contended. “I don’t like to see these beautiful creatures put into an incorrect environment in terms of what they really live like and then rationalize it as being a conservation or education effort,” said MacKay, a director of Zoocheck Canada, one of the zoo’s fiercest critics. “What they’re doing is putting these birds into a very contrived and cliched setting and trying to convince people it’s educational.”