Archive for August, 2010

Penguin Meeting In Boston

August 29, 2010

Every penguin species lives in the southern hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean the world’s leading penguin biologists can’t come north to advocate for the flightless birds.

Penguin biologists from around the globe are gathering in Boston, starting Sunday, for a meeting between conservation groups, government officials and the public about protecting the animals.

The one week International Penguin Conference at the New England Aquarium involves more than 180 people from Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Scientists say penguins are barometers of the planet’s health and 12 of the remaining 18 penguin species are on the World Conservation Red List of Threatened Species. Dangers to penguins include oil spills, habitat loss and competition for food from commercial fishing activities.

#1 Chinese Penguin Chick

August 23, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that an emperor penguin couple hatched their first chick in an ocean park in northeast China, a long way from their previous home in the Antarctic.

The hatching at Dalian’s Laohutan Ocean Park in Liaoning Province was the first successful one in China.

The penguin chick was in good condition, according to the polar exploration department of China’s National Bureau of Oceanography.

Under threat from global warming, the emperor penguin is the only penguin that solely inhabits the Antarctic. It is the largest of its species and can grow up to 1.2 meters tall and weigh as much as 50 kg.

The penguin chick hatched on Tuesday morning after 66 days of incubation, including five days in an artificial incubator when the couple deserted the egg.

During the incredibly harsh Antarctic winters, when temperatures drop below minus 50 degrees Celsius, a female emperor penguin lays only one egg and keeps it warm on the sea-ice. Scientists know little about the hatching process.

The emperor penguin couple were brought to China in 2008 from the Antarctic. In the marine park, an artificial polar environment has been built for them.

A mother of emperor penguin feeds her newly-born baby at the polar world of Laohutan Ocean Park in Dalian, north east China's Liaoning Province

Name Bostons Newest Penguins

August 23, 2010

Q: What do Pip, Roast Beef, Pikkewynne and Sanccob have in common?

A: They are names of African penguins at the New England Aquarium. With 11 African Penguin chicks being released to live among the penguins that make their home at the New England Aquarium, penguin fans now have the chance to name a penguin.

The Penguin Chick Naming Contest, which runs until 5 p.m, Aug. 23, invites penguin post readers to submit a name for one African penguin. The person who offers the most captivating name will be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour at the Aquarium. The winner will be announced online at on Aug. 25. He or she will see the breeding area where the chicks were hatched and have the chance to speak with Aquarium biologists.

In following suit with African penguins that are already part of the Aquarium’s 90-penguin exhibit, a NEAq biologist will choose a name that teaches visitors something about African penguins. For example, Pip was named after the lengthy process penguin chicks go through to break out of the shells, known as “pipping,” and Pikkewynne is the word for penguin in Africkaans. Roast Beef and Plum Pudding were named for the islands of the coast of Namibia, which is where African penguins breed. The islands were named by hungry sailors.

Click on the penguin button on the NEAq website to learn more about African penguins and to enter the contest. If the winning name is offered by more than one person, the person who submitted the name first will be declared the winner, so send your name today.

One of the newly hatched and nameless penguin chicks at the NEAq

Scottish Air Show Panics Penguins

August 22, 2010
P-P-PLEASE don’t p-p-panic the penguins! The Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been asked by the city’s zoo to change the flight paths of fighter jets that overfly the popular spectacle because the noise is upsetting its birds.

The Penguin Post has learned that Tattoo organizers have arranged several flypasts by RAF jets – which produce an ear-splitting 140 decibels of noise – to coincide with the presence of a series of dignitaries during its Diamond Jubilee run.

But Tattoo organizers have refused to change the flight paths, which take the planes directly over the animal enclosures on the city’s Corstorphine Hill, saying that it is up to zoo managers to provide protection.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Zoo said there had been a number of exchanges over their concerns that its penguins might panic during their breeding season.

“Edinburgh Zoo was recently contacted and advised of military flyovers during the Edinburgh Tattoo,” she said. “A number of flyovers have been planned during the Tattoo’s run, whereby the jets’ flight path is directly over the zoo’s grounds.

“Because of this the zoo requested the flight path to be changed as the noise from the low-flying planes can be stressful for the animals.”

She said that while the vast majority of the animals would be adversely affected by the roar of the engines, the penguins were most at risk.

“The penguins in particular can become distressed by the sound of the jet engines. As it is the penguin breeding season the animals can get very stressed, which could potentially lead to eggs being broken or penguin chicks being trodden on in a panic.”

In an effort to minimize the impact of the noise, some animals have been kept in their enclosures at night. However, because the penguins live in an open pen, keepers have been unable to make any special arrangements for them.

Alan Smith, the Tattoo marketing manager, said that they were aware of the zoo’s concerns and had forewarned them about the noise.

“We informed Edinburgh Zoo of the flypasts at the beginning of the run. I think that was a courtesy because there had been an issue last year with the flypasts during the RAF year. That was brought to our attention, and we felt that if we were at least trying to give them some advance notice then preparations could be made to do what they could do to protect their animals.   Smith said that both the Tattoo and the RAF had to abide by routes decided by air traffic control at Edinburgh Airport. “So it’s not as simple a question as the RAF or Edinburgh Tattoo determining the route of the aircraft.”

He added that there was just one more appearance by the RAF on Wednesday at 9pm this week: “We are obviously sympathetic to the penguins’ plight but we have one more flypast and we ask, as we always do at this time of year, for people’s patience.”

Jim Carrey To Star in Mr. Popper’s Penguins

August 21, 2010

The last time Jim Carrey lit up the big screen, he did so as four different CGI characters in Disney’s animated “A Christmas Carol” reboot. Now, in addition to the recently announced project “Pierre, Pierre,” with “Bruno” director Larry Charles, the Penguin Post has learned that 20th Century Fox has lined up the funnyman to star in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” based on the classic children’s book of the same name.

The film adaptation is said to be an upscale spin on the book, with Carrey in the role of the titular Mr. Popper, now a high-powered businessman who suddenly inherits six penguins. As Popper becomes increasingly attached to his feathered friends, his life unravels and, you guessed it, wackiness ensues. According to the script synopsis, Popper’s swanky apartment turns into a winter wonderland, and he almost lands in jail.

“But thanks to his new charges,” the logline reads, “Popper comes to understand the importance of family, human and otherwise.”

Fans of the book, written by Richard and Florence Atwater, will note that this proposed film version is a departure from the 1938 original, in which Popper is a poor housepainter who receives the surprise gift of a penguin by mail after writing into a radio broadcast hosted by Antarctic explorer Admiral Drake. Eventually, one penguin turns into 12, and in order to support their expansive brood, the Poppers train the penguins to perform.

Perhaps Carrey can convince the filmmakers to reintroduce the painter aspect of Popper’s character, given the actor’s newfound passion for painting, which he has been chronicling via his Twitter account. No word on when production is scheduled to begin, but Mark Waters (“Mean Girls” and “The Spiderwick Chronicles”) is set to direct.

Philly Penguins Chase Butterfly

August 19, 2010

In case you have yet to see this, the Penguin Post has come across an adorable video that captured a group of Humboldt Penguins waddling around their enclosure at the Philadelphia Zoo this past weekend in pursuit of a wayward butterfly.

Penguin Rescued By Keepers At Dudley Zoo

August 19, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that keepers at the Dudley Zoo in the U.K.  have rescued a penguin chick left at risk by its mother, and they are hand-rearing a four-week-old Humboldt penguin chick after its mother built a nest on a dangerously- exposed bank.  Curator Matt Lewis said the mum chose not to use nest boxes within the enclosure, putting the youngster at risk.  He said: “We had no other option other than to remove the chick from the bank as it wouldn’t have survived.   “The nest could easily have flooded or the chick may have been taken by a seagull, as it was in a very vulnerable position.”   The chick weighs around 500 grammes and is being fed whole small sprats three times a day, taking around 50g per fee

Penguins On Parade In New Zealand

August 19, 2010

If you really want the complete penguin experience this Summer head on down to Oamaru, New Zealand.  For once there  you will soon realize it is all about penguins all the time.

Needless to say the towns souvenir shops are packed with penguin memorabilia. Penguin statues, coasters, T-shirts, postage stamps, wall plates … you name it. The bars sell penguin cocktails and the takeaway outlets purport to offer Penguin burgers.

But the Penguin Post has learned that the center of this penguin mania in Oamaru is a most enchanting colony of little blue penguins right on its front door.

Located on the foreshore, adjacent to the Harbour-Tyne Precinct, the eco-tourism attraction has been sympathetically developed in the past 15 years, not only to enhance the visitor experience but also to improve the care and protection of our flippered friends.

The colony has become a fully fledged international tourist drawcard and, every night, hundreds – if not thousands – of visitors flock to the foreshore to watch the nightly parade of penguins waddling home to their nests after spending all day at sea.

The numbers vary throughout the year, as does the parade timing.

As a general rule of thumb, the penguins will come ashore just before dark.

So through August and September, the nightly spectacle takes place about 6.30pm.

However, through December and January, the longer days push the nightly show back to about the 9.30pm mark.

The visitor center features a range of engaging exhibits and, during the day, you can arrange a behind-the-scenes conservation tour and see the chicks’ nesting boxes.

A typical intersection in downtown Oamaru

Fundraiser at The Thirsty Penguin Pub

August 18, 2010

Near Vancouver, B.C. Charlene Doberstein’s dining room set could very well be quite lovely. It’s a little tough to tell these days, with it buried under a mountain of stuff.

Every square inch of her table top is covered — whether it be cellophane- wrapped gift baskets, Barbie dolls, electronic kitchen gadgets, bottles of wine or sporting equipment. On the floor are larger items, tucked up against the table or into a corner to maintain a clear path to the kitchen.

No, she’s not the subject for an upcoming episode of Hoarders.

In a few weeks, all the items will be gone, when they’re auctioned off as part of her pub night in support of Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Since she began planning the Aug. 27 fundraiser, Doberstein has been busy visiting local businesses to collect donations and organizing a series of fundraising events to help her raise the entry fee for the Florida half-marathon, which will take place this October.

Her husband, Trent, is running, too.

Between them, the couple must raise $8,200 for the charity in order to participate in the TNT run, which will take place at night inside Disney World and Epcot Centre. So far, they’ve raised $3,300.

Each $4,100 entry fee covers participants’ travel and accommodation costs, with roughly 75 per cent of the funds going directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

And while the upcoming pub night will be the couple’s major fundraiser, it’s by no means their first.

So far, they’ve sold doughnuts and held a garage sale — with the vast majority of the items sold coming courtesy of their neighbours, for which the couple is profoundly thankful.

“I’m not a pack rat. If I haven’t used it for a year, it goes,” said Doberstein.

Every Wednesday afternoon, she takes donated bottles and cans to the local return centre. While she’s there, she asks other people if they’d like to donate the proceeds from their own recyclables to the cause. Eighty per cent say yes, she estimates.

On Sept. 3, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. there will be a benefit show at the Walnut Grove Wired Monk, featuring live music by up and coming local artists. All money donated at the event will go toward the Dobersteins’ efforts on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

But, what makes this event extra special to the Penguin Post is the pub night fundraiser will take place at the Thirsty Penguin, above Twin Rinks on the Langley Bypass. There will be a raffle, as well as a toonie toss and other fundraising efforts taking place throughout the evening.

“This is our big one,” said Doberstein.

The couple decided to join Team in Training last April, after seeing a brochure while they were out having breakfast.

“I said, ‘I’m going to check it,’ out and Trent said, ‘Sign me up, too,’” she recalled.

On her first outing, the self-described couch potato couldn’t run two blocks up a gentle hill without getting winded and sore.

Now, she can put 14 kilometres behind her and feel good the next day.

Unlike the other runners in their group of 45, Doberstein and her husband didn’t know anyone who’d had, or was currently diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma.

Then, she read a Langley Times article about Anne Dent, a Langley City woman who had not only beaten leukemia, but had kicked its ass, while keeping her sense of humour and never-say-die attitude intact.

“Her whole attitude was so positive,” said Doberstein — “’This is my life. I’m going to own it, cancer isn’t going to own it.’

“I thought, ‘I have to do something.’ So I called her.”

The two women met and Doberstein asked whether Dent would allow her to run on her behalf.

“Now she teases me — ‘Don’t you wish you were a couch potato?’”

Since joining TNT, Doberstein has heard a number of touching stories — from the 24-year-old woman who beat leukemia, thanks to drugs discovered within the last few years as a result of funded research, to her running partner, Tony, who missed the first few training sessions because he was undergoing chemotherapy treatment in his own cancer battle.

The stories have helped to inspire her and to put her own pain into perspective, she said. After all, it’s not likely she’ll complain about a sore foot to a man who’s undergoing chemo.

The personal physical benefits of training have been more than she expected, too, said Doberstein.

“If you join a gym or go on a diet, you’re going to spend $4,100 anyway.

“This way, it’s going to a good cause.”

“We did it to get in shape, but the health benefits have been that we have more energy and a more positive outlook. The stupid little things don’t annoy us anymore.”

Tickets for Doberstein’s Aug. 27 pub night in support of TNT are $18 each. She will also be accepting donations outside Club Colour, 20494 Fraser Hwy. during Arts Alive celebrations on Saturday, Aug. 21.

For tickets or information about any of Doberstein’s fundraising efforts, call her at 604-888-7410.

Penguin Place’s Head Penguin Eric Bennett Interviewed for AOL

August 18, 2010

Earlier this Summer the founder and Head Penguin of Penguin Place was interviewed for AOL’s new on-line business magazine about the history and philosophy behind Penguin Place. Here’s the link to the interview