May 13, 2015
The Penguin Post has learned that to celebrate the third anniversary of the Tokyo Sky Tree’s train line, a group of travelers will be riding the train to Sumida with some very special company: a group of adorable Magellanic penguins. The Sumida Aquarium is home to all sorts of marine life, but the biggest stars are its penguins, who frolic and float in a spacious habitat in the center of the facility.
A number of events are planned as part of the Sky Tree’s third birthday, which is officially May 22. For its part, the Sumida Aquarium is planning something called the Penguin Train, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Kitakasukabe Station is located in Saitama Prefecture’s Kasukabe City on the Tobu Isesaki Line, a portion of which is also known as the Tokyo Sky Tree line because its southernmost stop is right at the base of the tower. At 12:10 p.m. on May 17, a group of elementary school children, chosen through applications submitted through the Tobu Railway website, and their families will board the train at Kitakasukabe bound for Tokyo Sky Tree Station.
The trip will take about 50 minutes, which ordinarily would be plenty of time for the little tykes to get antsy. We doubt any of them will be bored on this day, though, since they’ll be sharing the train with a group of four Magellanic penguins on loan from the Sumida Aquarium.
The dapper birds will be parading through the train, giving the passengers a chance to observe them up-close. Upon arriving at Tokyo Sky Tree Station, the group will proceed to the aquarium to watch the penguins feeding, plus listen to a talk from their caretakers before proceeding on a tour of the rest of the aquarium and making the trip up to the Sky Tree’s observation platform hundreds of feet above the city. The penguins, meanwhile, will be relaxing in the pool, having already had enough excitement for one day after taking their train ride, something most penguins rarely gets to do.
May 11, 2015
If there was ever a reason to feel old, this month’s 32th birthday of the Playful Penguin Race is ground zero. Yes, according to some top notch research, it was on this month in 1983 that the iconic Playful Penguin Race was first appeared on the sidewalks of Canal St. in New York (where I first got mine). The Penguin Race concept is simple and yet brilliant. One oscillating mechanism inside makes the clear plastic sidings on either side of the stairs goes up and down.
The blue, red and black penguins are on rollers with little pegs on the bottom. When the clear plastic stair walls go up and down, they hook onto the pegs on the penguins sides and that’s how the penguins are carried up the stairs. When they reach to top gravity simply takes over and down they slide only to start all over again. Weeeee!!!! Goes all kids 2 – 6 years old since 1983. That’s a lot of kids. The race does have a fairly annoying squeaking noise which incidently only seems to annoy adults. Thankfully, the noise does fade with use and time to more palatable decibels. I use to advise parents to turn the race on and lock it in the garage or a closet overnight to get the noise to fade away. In time all you’ll here are the oscillating gears.The whole concept of a Penguin Race or even calling it a game is very debatable. It’s not really a race as the penguin can’t pass each other, although that doesn’t keep kids from picking up the penguins and switching their positions, and it’s not really a game. But, it is a very timeless toy that has been entertaining kids for over three decades.
May 8, 2015
The Penguin Post has learned that the Edinburgh Zoo is welcoming its first furry Gentoo penguins of the season, which were born this week. The first chick made its arrival on Monday, with the second breaking out of his shell yesterday. Another egg has already started to crack and is expected to hatch shortly, followed by the hatching of several other chicks over the next couple of weeks.
Edinburgh Zoo are over the moon about its new arrivals despite the hectic schedule the penguin breeding season brings. “We are really happy that the first of the gentoo penguin eggs have hatched,” senior penguin keeper Dawn Nicoll said. “Penguin breeding season is always a really busy time for us, right from the moment we put the nesting rings into the enclosure, through the incubation period, to the hatching, rearing and, eventually, the fledging of the chicks.
“It is always incredibly rewarding when the eggs start hatching and we finally get to see the penguin chicks. “The majority of them will hatch over the next two to three weeks as the penguins will not all lay at exactly the same time. Fingers crossed we will have quite a few chicks keeping us busy this season.” The breeding season at Penguins Rock kicked off in March as the penguins all began to squabble and flipper-slap each other as they competed for the best breeding grounds. The first eggs were laid at the beginning in April just in time for Easter and the penguins have now produced 40 eggs so far.
May 2, 2015
Ever wondered what penguins get up to when nobody’s watching? The Penguin Post has learned that the citizen science project, Penguin Watch, has just released 500,000 new images of the flightless birds in the hopes it will reveal their secrets and help conservation efforts. The project launched in 2014 and led by Oxford University scientists with support from the Australian Antarctic Division, asks people to go online and count penguins in images taken by remote cameras monitoring almost 100 colonies in Antarctica. Scientists hope the results from the latest batch of photos published to coincide with World Penguin Day on April 25 will help them discover how climate change and human activity affect breeding and feeding and why some penguin species thrive as others decline in a bid to conserve them.
Citizen scientists are helping biologists shed light on the lives of penguins in Antarctica by viewing time-lapse photos.
“The problem is that penguins face different challenges across their range, which could be from climate change, from fisheries or direct human disturbance,” said Tom Hart of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology in a statement. “Having many more sites monitored and comparing high- versus low-fished sites, for example, will enable us to work out which of these threats are causing changes to penguin populations and how we might mitigate them.” Monitoring penguin colonies during breeding season has proven problematic in the past because the areas are extremely difficult to access at the beginning of the season, according to the statement.
But the combination of time-lapse cameras and 1.5 million eagle-eyed citizen scientists has already alerted the project’s researchers to some surprising secret penguin behaviors. For instance, penguins apparently inadvertently use their poop to melt ice so they can breed.
May 2, 2015
The Penguin Post has learned that Gentoo penguins have given the term nesting a whole new meaning. The penguins poop on their frozen landscape in the Antarctic to melt it, creating the ideal location to rear their young when the time comes, new video footage suggests.
Though most humans wouldn’t consider poop an appropriate decoration for a child’s nursery (although it is certainly a common element in them), poop seems to play a key role in penguins’ breeding behavior. This poop “landscaping” is probably unintentional: The penguins most likely aren’t considering the feng shui of their feces and deliberately pooping to make room for their chicks’ nurseries, researchers said.
The new insight came from thousands of hours of video taken by researchers from the University of Oxford in England, along with the Australian Antarctic Division. The researchers spent a year videotaping the behavior of a colony of Gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula. The team also used snow gauges to measure how fast snow melted as the tuxedo-clad birds came and went. [See Video of the Penguin’s Poop Landscaping]
The frosty region is usually blanketed by snow and ice, but that changed at certain times of the year. The birds aggregated in large groups, leaving huge piles of guano, or poop. The dark color of the poop allowed the light from the weak Antarctic sun to be more quickly absorbed. That, in turn, fueled the melting of the ice and left a lot of bare rocky shelters — perfect nesting grounds for rearing their adorable penguin chicks.
Gentoo penguins, or Pygoscelis papua, are among the rarest of the Antarctic birds, with fewer than 300,000 breeding pairs on the icy continent, according to the British Antarctic Survey. The Gentoo’s, like many other penguins, are monogamous, usually mating with the same partner year after year. Each female penguin lays just two eggs for the season, so it’s no surprise that they aggressively protect their eggs, according to the British Antarctic Survey. The penguins tend to place their eggs on hilltops and open beaches, collecting bits of pebbles and other objects from their surroundings for their nests.
April 8, 2015
The Penguin Post has learned that this week the Rosamont Gifford Zoo in Syracuse NY is holding an online naming contest for its new Humboldt penguin chicks. The two females hatched in January at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo are the offspring of Mario and Montana. The zoo says an initial request last week yielded 961 suggested names, most from the U.S. and some from the United Kingdom.
Now the finalists chosen by a committee of zoo staff that considered creativity and overall appeal will go to an online vote. A Latin American influence was also a factor because the Humboldts populate the west coast of South America. The finalists are: Alejandra, Calypso, Frida, Malia and Muchacha. Voting started Monday and will run through 4 p.m. Friday on the zoo website. So go and cast your vote.
April 8, 2015
These penguins are eager for their stones. They begin screeching with excitement as the first bucket of rocks is dumped inside their home in the Penguins’ Rock exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium on Thursday morning.
“These are like magic rocks that signal breeding season,” said Loribeth Lee, senior aviculturist at the aquarium. “They have a one-track mind, and breeding is all they can think about.” Once a year, typically during the first week of April, aquarium staffers begin to haul more than 500 pounds of rocks into the exhibit for the penguins to use to build their nests. The rocks they bring in are specially selected: they need to be small enough for penguins to carry in their beaks, but not so small they can be swallowed, Lee said. During the breeding season, penguins are noticeably more aggressive, Lee said. They occasionally get into fights over rocks and each other’s nests.
As soon as the nests begin to take shape, the penguins will start to select their partners for the mating season. The aquarium’s exhibit is home to two breeds of penguins, macaronis and gentoos. Both breeds will mate only with their own kind, and the couples will remain together throughout the breeding season.
This year there are 19 penguins of breeding age. “This means one female is going to be left out,” Lee said. “We don’t really know who will end up together.” Aquarium staff anticipate having about 14 eggs, but Lee said it’s normal to only have a handful of chicks hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the chicks will stay under the protection of their parents for 10 weeks, hardly moving. Hunter Hays, 12, was visiting the aquarium on Thursday with his family. He and his younger brother stood at the glass walls of the exhibit and watched as the penguins frantically carried rocks in their beaks. “It’s really cool seeing how the penguins build their nests,” he said. “But I don’t think I want a penguin for a pet. I bet they could get annoying and would be kind of loud.”
April 1, 2015
An amazing discovery in Antarctica! A colony of actual flying penguins! A hybrid of Adelie penguins to be exact. Our world is changed forever.