Yes, it’s that time of year again: National Penguin Awareness Day is Jan. 20 and we hope you celebrate in style. Obviously, if you’re a reader of the Penguin Post then it goes without saying that just about everyday is Penguin Awareness Day, but let’s make this annual event the perfect opportunity to enlighten others to the wonderful world of penguins. Be it something fun and silly, or something more serious like raising awareness to the plight of endangered and threatened penguins around the world. There are 17 species of penguins and many are threatened by climate change and man made dangers like oil spills and habitat encroachment which makes this years Penguin Awareness Day more important than ever. But, oil spills aside there’s still plenty of room to make this a fun day to celebrate and share. The first obvious way to start your day is wearing black and white, then adding some penguin accessories, be it jewelry, buttons, socks, a penguin hat or a pair of penguin mittens. In other words, dress like a penguin, think like a penguin. Next, how about having some fish for lunch or Penguin Pasta? My daughters are wearing their penguin hats and packing some goldfish crackers with their lunch. Remember, eating fish is healthy and a penguin would. A little waddle now and then wouldn’t hurt either, as would making penguin cupcakes or cookies. Visit your local penguins at a zoo or aquarium. Play a penguin board game, like Penguin-opoly or Match of The Penguins. In the evening how about a viewing of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Happy Feet or March of The Penguins, or perhaps re-enacting the famous “Penguin Huddle” with someone special. Sending a Penguin Awareness Day e-card, replacing your desktop with penguin pictures, or forwarding penguin pictures to your friends is also a great way to share your penguin passion. So, here’s to having a wonderfully waddling National Penguin Awareness Day.
Posts Tagged ‘Happy Feet’
I have a real soft spot for the Maryland (Baltimore) Zoo as a few years ago I was treated to a behind the scenes, up close and personal chance to hang out in the penguin den for an hour. That afternoon was without a doubt my personal favorite live penguin experience. I doubt any of the penguins remember me, but I sure remember them.
Today, the Penguin Post is happy to report that the 52 African penguins at The Maryland Zoo are doing just fine and are more popular than ever as they chew on shoe laces, hide underneath rocks and skirmish among themselves. They are a curious, stubborn, squawking lot. The keepers at their Rock Island habitat, the zoo’s penguin exhibit since 1967, have their hands full. Always. “This is kind of like having a day care with a bunch of 3-year-old kids sometimes,” said Jen Kottyan, the high-energy manager charged with their care. Yet it’s those same quirks that have allowed the waddling, attention-craving penguins to endear themselves to their human keepers. Their antics during public feedings draw a crowd no matter the time of year, including in the winter months when the Maryland Zoo was previously closed to visitors. The zoo is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays through Mondays in January and February for the second consecutive year. A few of the species, including some African birds and tortoises, are kept indoors during teeth-chattering, cold winter days. But most of the zoo’s more than 2,500 animals deal with frigid weather just fine. The African penguins seem right at home. The species is native to the rocky coastline of South Africa and Namibia and its temperate climate. Only a few penguin species live as far south as Antarctica in the wild. The zoo’s penguins are free to meander about outside as long as their 250,000-gallon moat is not completely frozen over.
If it gets too chilly even for them, they can retreat to a heated indoor sanctuary. When the domesticated penguins spot caretakers and visitors inside their habitat, many of them wander over. And that’s when the fun starts. Depending on their moods, the penguins will peck at pant legs, surround their human counterparts or jostle with each other. If one of their human handlers omits a yell that sounds like a braying donkey, the penguins will mimic it. The high-pitched squawk is the reason why the African penguins are nicknamed the jackass breed. “We don’t like to call them that,” Kottyan said, “but the kids get a kick out of it.” During a public feeding Friday, the penguins gathered while caretakers flung herring, capelin and squid at the group. The penguins each eat about a pound of fish each day. Their human overseers closely track how much each penguin in the group eats. Two of the zoo’s four penguin chicks were brought outside for the public feeding. Four penguin chicks have been successfully bred there in recent months, Kottyan said, with the most recent one born on Christmas Day. The Maryland Zoo has raised more than 800 chicks and plays a role in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan. The zoo has raised chicks that are now on display throughout the country at other exhibits. The Maryland Zoo has the largest collection of African penguins in the U.S. The African penguins are threatened due to overfishing and frequent oil slicks in their home habitats, which happen to be near busy shipping routes for crude. “If they get coated with oil, they want to clean themselves and wind up ingesting it,” Kottyan said. The plight other species of penguins have been featured in major motion pictures such as “March of the Penguins”, “Surf’s Up”, “Madagascar” and “Happy Feet” in the last decade, but the not so glamorous African penguin has not seen the Hollywood spotlight yet. Kottyan said zoo visitors took notice. “We hear the comments even still when we are out in the public feeding that our penguins don’t look like the ones from ‘March of the Penguins,’” she said. That’s because they are a completely different breed. “March of the Penguins” followed a colony of Emperor penguins in Antarctica. The 2-feet-tall African penguins are roughly half the size of their Emperor counterparts. Regardless, Kottyan said the movies sparked an interest in their plight and allow the keepers to explain that there are different types of penguin. Even in Africa, where these penguins are considered endangered by The
International Union for Conservation of Nature. The penguin exhibit is among the most popular at the zoo, staffers said. A few times each year, the zoo holds Breakfast with the Penguins programs. This year’s programs are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. April 14, July 6-7 and Sept. 8. “They sell out every single time,” Kottyan said. During the events, visitors have the opportunity to eat breakfast, feed the penguins and learn more about their behavior. They discover what their caretakers have known for so long: The tiny penguins can be rambunctious, loving, inquisitive and maddening all at once. “Working with these guys,” keeper Betty Dipple said, “prepares you for motherhood.”
The Penguin Post has learned that a wealthy New Zealand philanthropist wants to find Happy Feet, the lost emperor penguin that gained worldwide stardom after he washed up on a New Zealand beach thousands of miles from his Antarctic home. After being nursed back to health, Happy Feet caught a ride home on a research ship, where in a very public media event he was released, complete with an electronic tracker that allowed people to follow his progress on the internet. That signal died only a short time later, prompting many to fear Happy Feet had met with an unfortunate end. In an interview with the New Zealand Herald Gareth Morgan – who paid for the transmitter – said he believed the popular penguin may have simply swum out of range and he plans to mount a mission to find him. This theory matches that of tracking company Sirtrack who said in September that the rumors of Happy Feet’s death were greatly exaggerated and that it was likely his tracking device had simply fallen off. Mr Morgan, a former economist known in his native New Zealand as an author and philanthropist, will join 12 scientists on a 30-day voyage to Antarctica early next year to raise awareness of the importance of the region, and as an “add-on” to the trip will try to prove the wayward bird is alive. “He’s got a radio-chip embedded in him so in theory, we could come across a colony of penguins and go out with a radio transmitter trying to find him,” he said. Let’s keep our flippers crossed that that’s the case.
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 fate of Happy Feet, the emperor penguin who washed up in New Zealand, 2000 miles from his Antarctic home, remained a mystery despite persistent questioning in the New Zealand parliament on Thursday. Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley could only tell the House of
Representatives that it was “highly improbable” that he was caught in the nets of a trawler after being released into the Southern Ocean September 4. The saga of Happy Feet has been followed by thousands around the world since he was nursed back to health after being found on a North Island beach eating sand under the impression it was snow. Fans expressed alarm when the satellite transmitter glued to his feathers stopped sending signals eight days after he was freed from a boat into the near-freezing waters off New Zealand’s Campbell Island. There was immediate speculation that he had been eaten by a whale or some other monster of the deep, but Green member of parliament Gareth Hughes suspected he had been swept up in the nets of one of nine trawlers recorded around Happy Feet’s last known location. The boats, trawling for southern blue whiting, or blue cod, were 37 to 55 kilometres away from the penguin at the time of the last transmission. “A southern blue whiting trawler can cover 50 nautical miles (893 kilometres) in a day, and we are talking about an incredibly long net that is almost half a kilometre wide and 75 metres high,” Hughes said. “How can the minister claim that it is very unlikely that Happy Feet was possibly trawled?” he asked. As the speaker tried to keep order amid the festive noise of the last day of parliament before next month’s general election, Heatley reminded parliament that the closest vessel was 32 kilometers away when the transmissions fell silent. “Its fishing lines are not 32 kilometers long,” he said. “That would have meant that the vessel raced the transponder’s emission, which went probably faster than – or close to – the speed of light. That would have been a very fast fishing vessel, indeed.” Heatley said ministry officials had been monitoring the fishing boats and Happy Feet’s transponder on adjacent screens, and they never came near each other.
In the latest wild and crazy wayward penguin thousands of miles from home news, the Penguin Post has learned that day trippers on Southsea beach near Portsmouth in the U.K. were astonished to see what appeared to be a penguin frolicking in the shallows. The British Sun newspaper even published grainy footage of a black and white seabird diving in and out of the waves on Sunday. As the south coast enjoyed record high October temperatures there were plenty of locals to witness the strange sight of a penguin in the U.K. Witnesses claim that the penguin was said to have been also seen waddling around the harbor to the shock, delight and surprise of onlookers. The newspaper suggested that it could be a lost jackass (African) penguin, whose natural habitat is usually 6,000 miles away in South Africa. The claim of this latest rare sighting of a penguin thousands of miles from home has come only a few months after an Antarctic Emperor Penguin nicknamed “Happy Feet” caused a global sensation when it turned up in New Zealand. Joanne Gordon, 35, of Aldershot, who shot the footage, told the paper: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw it swimming around away just six foot from me.” Hopefully, this penguin won’t be dining on beach sand like his cousin from New Zealand did over the Summer. But, only time will tell.
The Penguin Post has learned that Happy Feet may be gone but not forgotten as workers at a New Zealand nature preserve where a confused emperor penguin washed ashore in June say they want to erect a sign at the now famous Peka Peka beach to honor the bird. Happy Feet was released back into the wild closer to its home in the Southern Ocean Sept. 4, and the Nga Manu Nature Reserve is petitioning for a monument, the Kapiti Observer in New Zealand reported Tuesday. Nga Manu Manager Bruce Benseman has applied to the Waikanae Community Board for $600 to erect a sign marking the spot where Happy Feet washed ashore in Peka Peka. He pointed out that an emperor penguin has visited New Zealand only one other time, 44 years ago. “It is therefore a rare and special occurrence and worth memorializing,” he said. The sign would give visitors to the beach information on whom to contact if they discover stranded wildlife.
The Penguin Post has learned that everyone’s favorite penguin of 2011 known to the world as “Happy Feet” is now classified as missing in action somewhere in the southern ocean on his way home from New Zealand, eluding his trackers just days after his release and leaving behind a penguin mystery that may never be solved. As Happy Feet’s satellite transmitter went silent Friday, five days after experts released the bird from a research ship into the Southern Ocean about a quarter of the way down to Antarctica. Initial dispatches from the device showed that Happy Feet swam in a meandering route, ending up about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of where he began by the time the last transmission came across Friday morning. Experts say his looping pattern was typical for a healthy penguin chasing fish. At this point, the transmitter may have simply fallen off. . It was attached to the bird’s feathers with super glue and was supposed to fall off anyway early next year when he molted. “Who knows? He’s probably swimming along quite happily without a transmitter on his back,” said Peter Simpson, a program manager at New Zealand’s department of conservation. But there’s a tiny chance they could get more clues one day because of another, small device implanted under the bird’s skin. This transponder chip could send a signal if it comes close enough to an Antarctic monitoring site, but that might take years. Kevin Lay, a consultant at the company Sirtrack, which attached the tracking device, said staff have gone over diagnostics from the tracker and it appears it was functioning well until the last transmission. Lay said the tracker needs to be above the water’s surface to transmit. Because penguins surface regularly to breathe, that hadn’t proved a problem until Friday. “We think the most likely scenario is tag detachment,” Lay said. “The intention was always that the transmitter would fall off.” Simpson said he was still confident that releasing Happy Feet was the right thing to do. “He’s a marine bird and he’s designed to swim and he’s designed to live in the ocean,” Simpson said. Scientists say there’s an outside possibility they may again hear from Happy Feet because of the implanted transponder chip, similar to those used to identify household cats and dogs. The chip could be activated if the penguin turns up near certain monitored emperor colonies in Antarctica. Because Happy Feet is believed to be about 3 years old, it could be a year or two before he would arrive in an Antarctic colony to breed — if he is still alive. New Zealand penguin expert Colin Miskelly said it’s time to face facts. “It’s unlikely that we will ever know what caused the transmission to cease,” Miskelly wrote on his blog. “But it is time to harden up to the reality that the penguin has returned to the anonymity from which he emerged.”
Watch this very cool footage of Happy Feet the wayward emperor penguin who found worldwide fame after he washed up on a New Zealand beach, being released with a gentle nudge back into the Southern Ocean from the Tangaora on Sunday to begin a long swim home to Antarctica.