Posts Tagged ‘Rockhopper 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 about the story of an adventurous Rockhopper penguin who got lost on the way to the Antarctic and ended up in sunny Alexandra, New Zealand. True story -there really was a penguin in Central Otago, about as far from the coast as it’s possible to get in this country. Central Vets Ltd senior small animal veterinarian, Sue Robb, operated on the 6-month-old injured rockhopper at the Alexandra clinic last week and its arrival caused quite a stir.
”The staff all came and had a look at it – it’s the closest most of them have ever been to a penguin,” Ms Robb said. It was found on a North Otago beach about a month ago with an injured foot, Katiki Point Charitable Trust honorary ranger Rosalie Goldsworthy said. She runs a penguin hospital at the point, near the Moeraki lighthouse, and the rockhopper ended up in her care. ”It was injured at sea. Some creature tried to kill it and got it by the foot – there were big tooth-marks around its ankle.”
It was very unusual to find rockhoppers on our shores and they were rarer than other crested penguins, Mrs Goldsworthy said. The nearest breeding site was Macquarie Island, halfway between New Zealand and the Antarctic. She and Ms Robb have been friends for about 15 years and have worked together on wildlife before, so she asked for the vet’s advice. ”Here I usually deal with companion animals – cats and dogs – but in the past I’ve operated on penguins and other wildlife, and on all kinds of birds from a pukeko through to a sulphur-crested cockatoo,” Ms Robb said.
The operation to remove the penguin’s foot took about 20 minutes and no special equipment was needed, although ”we did turn up the air-conditioning so it wasn’t too warm”. She saw treating wildlife as her ”social responsibility” and said there was no charge for the operation or care of the bird. ” I love the idea of being able to treat a rare bird like this and have it return to the wild,” Ms Robb said. The penguin is recuperating well back at the penguin hospital and was standing up on its stump, and balancing well, shortly after the operation, Mrs Goldsworthy said.
”It’s very special and has a lovely nature – not aggressive, but it is assertive. If it doesn’t like something, it’ll let you know.” ”Sue says it will take about a month to heal and then it’ll be heading south for its next adventure. I have every faith it will get back to Antarctica.” Penguins use their wings for propulsion through the water and their feet as rudders and it was already adapting to with changes to its stance. ”You can tell when they’re getting better – they get grumpy and start to jump against the pen when they’re ready to leave,” she said. The trust is a charity and relies on donations to fund its work. There are 13 penguins of four different species in the hospital.
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.
The Penguin Post has learned of new details of what may be the ultimate penguin experience (outside of a trip to Antarctica) by SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida regarding the park’s upcoming 2013 much anticipated new attraction, Antartica – Empire of the Penguin. The penguin-centric ride will utilize new technology that will allow the guests to experience the ride differently from visit to visit. Guests will also be allowed to choose the thrill level they wish to experience as each car seats eight people who can decide as a group which level they’d prefer. Also, as part of the ride a new SeaWorld star will be introduced – a young Gentoo penguin who will serve as the ride’s guide. No word as to the technology that will allow that to happen. The attraction will immerse guests in an incredible penguin experience with various species including: Gentoos, Rockhoppers, Adelies and Kings. Designers have yet to reveal how close guests will get to the penguins, but the penguins’ habitat must stay in the low 30 degrees for their comfort, so you may want to bring a jacket. With the habitat kept at that temperature, Antartica – Empire of the Penguin will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world. Or the coolest to say the least.
It happens every year for people and penguins alike. Spring arrives, the weather gets warmer, and hormones start pumping. It’s penguin breeding season and we’re taking you to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago for a sneak peak as to what penguin mating season is like. Just like their penguin (and people) cousins in the wild these males have to woo their ladies with just the right rock.
Yeah, that’s right penguin dudes. If you like your lady. Really like your lady, then you need to show her with a special rock before anything happens. No wonder we like penguins. When we male humans love someone, we also get all dressed up and present our lady love with a special rock (although our rock is a bit more expensive). Just like humans, once the rock is accepted, it’s time to get started and build the nest. During nesting season, male Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins at the Shedd launch into an all consuming frenzy in search of the perfect rocks and sticks to build their nests. To begin the annual mating ritual, Shedd’s penguin care experts place dozens of small,
smooth river rocks in the penguin habitat for the animals to create the perfect nest. The week-long war of the rocks will culminate with numerous nests throughout Shedd’s popular penguin exhibit and it even involves some penguin on penguin rock pilfering, as the fella’s can get ruthless, coveting and stealing other penguins rocks to make their nests the best. Eventually, it all evens out and everyone has a fine nest, although some may be finer than others (just like us). Once the nests are completed, it’s time to lay the eggs and wait.
The Penguin Post knows the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak very well as it’s within walking distance of my in-laws home, and now we have one regret that we decided to opt for Florida rather than Detroit for our recent Winter holiday, as the zoo in Royal Oak is off to a rockin’ start this month. Rockin’ as in Rockhoppers as the zoo welcomed seven new rockhopper penguins to their always improving Penguinarium. The four males and three females range in age from 1 to 26. They arrived in December from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo after its seabird exhibit closed. They were held in quarantine for 30 days. And now they’re hanging out with the zoo’s other penguins. “The Detroit Zoo is a great place for these birds because we have a lot of experience working with rockhoppers, and our penguin habitat provides temperature and light conditions similar to their former home. This is especially important for the older penguins as it can sometimes be difficult for them to adjust to environmental changes,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Birds Tom Schneider.
Found in the steep terrain of the sub-Antarctic islands, the rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) gets its name from the way it hops from rock to rock. The rockhopper is among the world’s smallest penguin species, standing up to 20 inches tall and weighing about 7 pounds. The black-and-white bird is distinguished by the crest of spiky yellow and black feathers that adorn its head. It has red eyes, a red-orange beak and pink webbed feet.
The Penguin Post has learned that there’s a namesake publication located on a small pair of islands off the coast of Argentina, and it’s called The Penguin News. The first copies of The Penguin News went on sale 33 years ago. Founder Graham Bound sensed that the British administered islands with a population of about 3000 needed a new voice and in response The Penguin News was created. It has, save for a few rare silences (such as during the Falkland’s War in 1982), been with us ever since. To date, seven different editors have been at the helm of the paper with numerous deputy editors, columnists and typists contributing over the years. Of course over the years with an indigenous penguin population about 100 times the human population there have been plenty of penguin related articles. The Falklands have become a major tourist destination for penguin lovers, but if you read the paper you’ll realize there’s lots more going on in this wonderfully fascinating corner of the world.
The Penguin Post has learned that this past week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the New Zealand/Australia distinct population segment of the southern rockhopper penguin is now protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), following publication of a final listing determination in the Federal Register.
The New Zealand/Australia distinct population segment of southern rockhopper penguin is found in the sub-antarctic region south of these two countries. The population size of this species, which breeds on the Macquarie, Campbell, Aukland and Antipodes Island groups, has declined by approximately 90 percent since the 1940’s and continues to shrink.
This action follows a thorough review of the best available scientific information from researchers, peer reviewers and the general public, as well as any new information received during a public comment period which followed publication of the proposed rule to list this species. The specific cause of the declining trend has not been identified, but information indicates that changes in the marine environment, such as prey availability, productivity or sea temperatures are the primary factors contributing to the decline.
Granting foreign species protection under the ESA means that the import or export of any of the species, or their parts or products, as well as their sale in interstate or foreign commerce, is prohibited. Permits for these prohibited actions are required for specific purposes consistent with the ESA.
The final rule will publish in the Federal Register on February 22, 2011, and become effective on March 24, 2010.
The ESA provides a critical safety net for native fish, wildlife and plants and to date has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation, as well as promoting the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Service’s implementation of the ESA, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.