A Penguin Goes To School

March 27, 2015

Oh joy! That was the look on the faces of Loveland Primary School second-grade students in Paula Hickey’s class Friday, March 13, when the Newport Aquarium’s Jolene Hanna brought in a special visitor to school in Loveland, Ohio. “The reaction was pure awe!” said Hickey. “As soon as the penguin was presented there was hush in the room and a look of amazement on all their faces!”

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What followed was a lesson on black-footed penguins the students are sure to remember. Mrs. Hanna – who happens to have a child in the class, shared facts about the penguin including what she does to take care of the penguins as well as other animals at the aquarium. She gave the class plenty of time to ask questions and observe the penguin walking around the room, and even allowed students to pet the new friend.

“It is important to incorporate events like this because it brings real-world experiences into the classroom,” said Hickey. “We were able to talk to an expert about penguins, and learn about them first-hand. It also allows students to hear about career opportunities, and half of them said they wanted to work with animals after the presentation. This was a true classroom – community connection.”

Baby Humboldt Penguin Hat Trick

March 27, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that this month, the Oregon Zoo welcomed three new Humboldt penguin chicks to their colony.  Zoo keepers say the penguins’ genders won’t be known until their first full veterinary checkup, which will take place in about three months.

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The new arrivals are staying warm in their nest boxes and growing strong on a diet of regurgitated “fish smoothie” provided by their parents, according to zoo keepers. “The chicks look like velvety gray plush toys,” said curator Michael Illig, who oversees the zoo’s birds and species recovery programs. “They weigh just a few ounces and can fit in the palm of your hand.” Visitors will be able to view the young penguins this Summer, once the chicks fledge and begin to explore the zoo’s Penguinarium.

By summer, the three chicks will be grayish-brown all over and be nearly as tall as the adult Humboldts. Their distinctive black-and-white tuxedo markings won’t develop for a couple more years. Humboldt penguins live along the South American coastline off Peru and Chile. In 2010, the penguins were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Henry The Penguin Waddles Far From Home

March 19, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that a rare penguin found wandering hundreds of miles from home is now en route back to the sea near where he hails from. The rare penguin in question is a Fiordland Crested Penguin from southern New Zealand named Henry was found wandering around the center of Akaroa, a town near Christchurch, New Zealand about three weeks ago.   Christchurch is located about two thirds of the way up New Zealand’s southern main island, and when discovered Henry was not only hungry and thirsty. He was moulting.11401516 Kevin Parthonnaud who first discovered the wayward penguin said Henry, who evaded capture at first, had been staying in his garden in Akoura.  Fiordland Crested Penguins, are classified as “endangered”, and are one of the rarest penguin species in the world. Their breeding range extends from south Westland to Fiordland, and on islands in the Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island, many hundreds of miles south of Christchurch. West Coast Penguin Trust manager Inger Perkins said she had not heard of a Fiordland crested penguin as far north as Akaroa before. “They don’t pop up away from their range that often, and especially this far north.” She also said Henry, “who could equally be a ‘Henrietta'”, was retrieved on Monday from Akaroa by Department of Conservation marine ranger Derek Cox, who was on holiday in the area with his partner. They put Henry in their van and spent the night camping out with the penguin. Henry, who was in a crate, attracted the curiosity of many local non-flightless birds. “They all just kind of looked at each other,” Perkins said. Henry’s presence also prompted a call to the police from confused campers. “We had to be sure it was not a penguin abduction,” police spokesman John Dougherty said. Henry was then delivered to Hokitika-based animal trustee Kim McPherson’s home for further fostering on Wednesday. Perkins said Henry would likely finish his moulting in the next week or so, when his newly waterproof feathers would then enable him to be returned to the sea back in his native habitat.

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Kevin Bacon is a Cute Baby Penguin

March 5, 2015

Yes, Kevin Bacon is indeed the name of an adorable new born King Penguin chick from Kentucky. The Penguin Post has learned that the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky, has a new baby king penguin that made his debut appearance Tuesday, and his name is Kevin Bacon (yes, he is named after the actor).  The name of the penguin was revealed to a group of third-graders from St. Francis de Sales School, Lebanon, during their visit to the aquarium.

Newport Aquarium senior biologist Jen Hazeres holds Kevin Bacon, a king penguin chick born Feb. 7 and unveiled at the aquarium Tuesday. He was due to hatch on Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie.

Newport Aquarium senior biologist Jen Hazeres holds Kevin Bacon, a king penguin chick born Feb. 7 and unveiled at the aquarium Tuesday. He was due to hatch on Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie.

The aquarium’s penguin population has now produced three chicks in a nine-month span. Kevin Bacon, who weighed 7.93 ounces when he was hatched Feb. 7, now weighs a whopping 2.5 pounds.  The chick’s expected hatching date was Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie. The chick’s parents are Bebe (father) and Wednesday (mother). He is the second chick the pair has reproduced. The aquarium’s king penguin population has produced three chicks in a nine-month span. There has been an average of only 14 king penguin hatchlings annually over the last 10 years at zoos and aquariums in the United States, said senior biologist Dan Clady.

 

March of The Penguins

March 2, 2015

Every penguin lover knows that March comes in like an angry Rockhopper.

830017-rockhopper-penguin and goes out like a downy Emperor Chick.

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Antarctica Penguin Perfect (For Now)

March 2, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that Antarctic sea ice levels are perfect for emperor penguins.  That according to researchers, who have found the frozen continent has in the past been (if you can believe) too cold for the bird. A team of Australian researchers, including scientists from the University of Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Division, has been investigating how emperor penguin numbers have varied over centuries.

6b8e1e81-3fcb-4a0a-b72e-4a225ae36f83-2060x1236The lead researcher, Jane Younger, said that despite emperor penguins being accustomed to temperatures of -30C, the last ice age seems to have been a snap too cold for them, when their population was about seven times smaller than in 2015. “Due to there being about twice as much sea ice compared to current conditions, the penguins were unable to breed in more than a few locations around Antarctica,” Younger said.  “The distances from the open ocean, where the penguins feed, to the stable sea ice where they breed was probably too far.” The finding suggests current sea ice conditions might be optimal for the emperor penguin population, but researchers have yet to determine the impact of further global warming.

Openings At The U.K. Penguin Post Office

February 27, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that there are plenty of people who want to spend five months in the bitter cold, sleeping little, be virtually isolated from the world, won’t be able to shower for up to a month and live in close proximity to three people and 2,000 penguins for five months, and work for the post office.

bransfield-house1 In the two weeks since February 16th posting,  over 1,500 people have applied for only four positions with the Royal Mail—that’s 375 applicants per spot—to be an assistant at the southernmost post office in the world in Port Lockroy, Antarctica.  In 2014, the total number of applicants for the same positions was a whopping 82. Inquiries skyrocketed after a documentary about the outpost aired on the BBC and PBS, according to the organization that runs it, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Image296In addition to the cold and isolated conditions, the job is a bit unique for a postal employee. The assistants have to run the base’s museum and shop, monitor the 2,000 Gentoo penguins that hang around, assist the 18,000 visitors to the island and handle the 70,000 letters that tourists post for that cherished Antarctica postmark.

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New Penguin Chicks At Omaha Zoo

February 26, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has a trio of brand new penguin chicks that are going on display today.  The chicks — two Rockhoppers and one Gentoo — are being set up in a penguin playpen in the zoo’s Antarctic Penguin display. The playpen gives the chicks a chance to safely get used to the other penguins in the exhibit, while allowing their feathers to grow in. They’ll stay in the playpen for a few weeks.

Gentoo on the left, Rockhoppers on the right.

Gentoo on the left, Rockhoppers on the right.

The Rockhopper chicks (pictured right), which hatched between Dec. 11 and Dec. 15, weigh about 4 pounds, and the Gentoo penguin (pictured left) weighs about 12 pounds. In the wild, Rockhopper penguins reside in the South Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. Gentoo penguins can be found on Sub-Antarctic islands with the main colonies on the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands. Rockhoppers are currently listed as vulnerable and Gentoos are near threatened, both with declining populations, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List due to fisheries, loss of habitat and oil spills.

In addition to these chicks, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium currently has 80 penguins on display: 22 King penguins, 32 Gentoo penguins and 26 Rockhopper penguins.

It Appears Penguins Have No Taste

February 20, 2015

PENGUINS are among the world’s most dedicated seafood eaters. But they can’t taste fish, biologists have discovered. The Penguin Post has learned that Chinese and American researchers have found that the flightless birds have only two of the five basic tastes — salty and sour — after losing the capacity to detect sweet, bitter and “umami” or savoury flavours.

Jianzhi Zhang, a genomic evolutionist at the University of Michigan, said the results were surprising. “Penguins eat fish, so you would guess they need the umami receptor genes,” he said. The discovery, revealed in the journal Current Biology, adds to the taste limitations known to bedevil some of the world’s most loved and loathed creatures. “Whales and dolphins have lost all tastes except salty,” Professor Zhang told The Australian. “Vampire bats have lost sweet and umami tastes.”

Adelie penguins and their water-going cousins can’t taste their prey’s fishy flavour, scientists have found.

Adelie penguins and their water-going cousins can’t taste their prey’s fishy flavor, scientists have found.

Birds also lack receptors for sweet flavors, even though many eat fruit and nectar. Scientists believe birds lost the T1R2 gene — which is crucial for tasting sugar — sometime during or after their evolution from meat-eating dinosaurs. The latest study found that receptors for detecting bitter and savory tastes were also missing from the genomes of Adelie and emperor penguins. Subsequent research revealed the other 15 penguin species also lacked these genes.

The researchers believe another key gene, known as TRPM5, may have effectively been frozen out of the genome of living penguins’ most recent common ancestor during an evolutionary stint in Antarctica. TRPM5 is “temperature-sensitive” and doesn’t function properly when things “get really cold”, the journal reported. While some penguins now inhabit warmer latitudes, all penguin species trace their roots to the frozen continent. But the study has raised a chicken-and-egg question, with the researchers unsure if penguins swallow fish whole because they can’t taste them, or vice-versa. Anatomical studies have found that penguins’ tongues are covered by a thick layer rather than taste buds, suggesting they’re used to catch food rather than taste it. “Their tongue structure and function suggest that penguins need no taste perception,” Professor Zhang said. “It is unclear whether these traits are a cause or a consequence of major taste loss.

Australia’s Oldest Man Likes To Knit For Penguins

February 11, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that Australia’s oldest man, Alfred “Alfie” Date has spent a lot of his days knitting sweaters for little penguins. The sweaters were requested from Victoria’s Phillip Island Penguin Foundation in 2013, to assist the survival of little penguins after an oil spill. Little penguins are a species of penguin only found in southern Australia and New Zealand, with a lone colony of 32,000 remaining on Phillip Island.  The sweaters are needed because the oiled penguins will lose much of their natural insulation until they recover.

penguinsThe 109-year-old, who lives in a retirement home on the New South Wales Central Coast, was asked by two nurses to help make the sweaters, as they had heard he was an experienced knitter. It was a request he could not refuse. Using heavy wool provided by the nurses, Alfie put his 80 years of knitting skills to good use and got to work.

The self-taught knitter, who refined his skills after making a baby jacket for his nephew in the 1930s, has seven children and 20 grandchildren, and “about the same amount” of great grandchildren.  Alfie remembers the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the declaration of World War one. He told his secret to a long life is simply “waking up every morning.”

Donations of the knitted penguin outfits were received from all over the world. The foundation says this “is not a fashion statement” but instead they help the little creatures if they are affected by an oil spill. Oil can make their feathers stick together, allowing water to get to their inner layers. This causes the little penguins to get cold and not be able to hunt due to heaviness. When oiled penguins arrive at the foundation, they are given a jacket to wear so that they don’t consume the toxins or preen their feathers. In 2001, 438 penguins were affected in an oil spill at Phillip Island and by using the knitted outfits, 96% of the penguins were rehabilitated at the clinic, according to the foundation’s website.

The center currently has “plenty of penguin jumpers (sweaters) at this time donated by generous knitters across the globe” and has asked for no more donations from eager knitters. Today, Alfie keeps active by knitting scarves for friends and beanies for premature babies.


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