Archive for September, 2010

U.S. Penguin Protection Confirmed

September 30, 2010

Since my wife works for The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this one comes right from the source as it has been confirmed to Penguin Place that the U.S.F. &W Service has issued a final action listing the African penguin as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The penguin’s population has declined over 60 percent in the last 30 years.
The agency’s action is part of a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity which has argued throughout years of litigation that the Secretary of the Interior–which oversees the agency–was derelict in not deciding whether the African, and several other penguins should be protected.
At the beginning of the 20th century the population of African penguins was so large that more than a million were identified at just one breeding site off the coast of South Africa. At the turn of this century, however, it was estimated that there were only 32,000 breeding pairs left in the world.
The destruction of nesting habitat by the stripping of penguin guano for fertilizer is one of the leading causes of the population decline of non-arctic penguins all around the southern hemisphere. The penguins burrow in the accumulated guano to protect their hatchlings from predation and the weather.
Low-lying nesting breeding habitat is being inundated by coastal flooding caused by in-land deforestation, and a nearly 2 millimeter rise in sea level over the past 30 years.
African penguins also are threatened by El Nino weather events which cause warm sea water to move toward the South Pole, driving away the cold-water sardines that are the mainstay of the penguin’s diet.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended Endangered Species Act protections to five other species of penguins, and made it illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, wound, kill, trap, collect or ship them into or out of the United States. The African penguin will now enjoy similar protections.

African Penguin

The Penguin Restaurant – Charlotte N.C.

September 29, 2010

Every once in a while, a spot gets a new lease on life. That’s just what’s happened to The Penguin Restaurant in Charlotte. A restaurant landmark in the heart of the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood for as long as most residents can remember, this modest restaurant served one and all since 1954, when Jimmy Ballentine opened the doors. The Penguin was famous for its late hours, cold beer, and reasonable prices.

When Mr. Ballentine finally retired in 1999, a new team took over the Plaza-Midwood mainstay. Brian Rowe, Jimmy King, and Greg Auten spent eight months renovating The Penguin. “Everybody else wanted to tear the place down,” says Auten, who handles the food end of the business. “We wanted to keep the feel of the place.” The partners preserved the original pine paneling, resurfaced the bar, returned the floor to a red and black checkerboard, but kept the essential layout intact. What they did not do is turn The Penguin into a “fern bar.” “We wanted to keep that workingman’s theme,” Auten says. No fancy microbews on tap. Big portions. Low prices. Great value in Plaza-Midwood. The partners did make a few innovations. The Penguin Restaurant now has a complete bar. The dining menu, while it still features the basic burgers, dogs, and fries, also offers a house-made Brunswick stew, a Ribeye sandwich (a steal at $5.95) and soy dogs and burgers for the vegetarian crowd. On any particular day, or night, you’ll find what Auten calls a “nice mix” of people enjoying a meal or a cold one. Businessmen lean on the bar, mixed in with a few of the “old-timers” and Plaza-Midwood residents. Punks with purple hair occupy a booth. A family of yuppies complete with baby stroller sits in the corner. The jukebox plays every kind of music – from doowop to country to new age to punk. The Penguin in Charlotte makes everyone feel welcome. That’s part of the tradition. The Plaza-Midwood neighborhood community has welcomed the reborn Penguin with open arms. Auten, who’s been in the restaurant business for 20 years, says, “We had people waiting for us to open. That just doesn’t happen.” At a Fourth of July bash, the neighborhood came out en masse to celebrate the return of The Penguin. The event was a blow-out success, and Auten and his partners plan similar events at Labor Day and other holidays. In particular, the new operators of The Penguin give thanks and credit to the Ballentine family for its wholehearted support. In a family with five daughters, these are “the boys” and they are serious about living up to the heritage left them by Jim Ballentine.

Dining On Penguin A Treat For Students

September 29, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that just outside of Sydney Australia Blessed Sacrament Primary School students dined with local dignitaries on board HMAS Penguin on August 30 to celebrate Captain John Hunter’s birthday. School captains Cara McGoldrick, Joe Tracey, Sophie Herring and Matthew McEnally were escorted by Mosman Mayor Anne Connon and HMAS Penguin Commander Gavin Baker to the Ward Room, which has spectacular views of Balmoral. After lunch, Lieutenant Commander Desmond Woods talked about the life of John Hunter, who was captain of the principal naval escort to the First Fleet. Students learned Captain Hunter saved the early settlers in the colony from starvation and was probably the first European to set foot in the Mosman area. “Our school captains were confident and interested ambassadors, and enjoyed this opportunity to focus on community heritage,” teacher Ellison Venables said. It’s not everyday that these students get to dine on penguin.

School captains Cara McGoldrick, Joe Tracey, Sophie Herring and Matthew McEnally with Mosman Mayor Anne Connon and HMAS Penguin Commander Gavin Baker.

African Penguin Added To Endangered Spieces Act

September 29, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that the African Penguin commonly known as the Jackass Penguin is now protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, following the publication of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service final listing determination in today’s Federal Register. The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), a species native to Namibia and South Africa, has been listed officially as endangered.

A Seaworld Penguin Proposal

September 24, 2010

Colin Cabalka, a California Boy, and Emily Wilson, a Florida gal, have quite the love story. Therefore, when it came time for the proposal, Colin did not disappoint. He had to pull a few strings at Sea World to make it all happen in their world famous Penguin Encounter, but it worked! Colin explains the significance of his proposal:

“The idea of the pengiun proposal started with the metaphor of penguins picking a mate for life. Emily asked me (Colin) to be her penguin about a few months after dating, and the metaphor has always been part of our relationship. When I decided I wanted to propose, I had to do something really big, and yet still original and significant to our relationship.”

“Along long time ago, a boy named Colin reached out of a bus window and gave cookies to two girls, Sarah and Shannan, in Cannes France at the Film Festival. These girls then told Colin that he would make a perfect match for Emily Wilson (Sarah’s sister in Florida) and that they would eventually get married. Colin was skeptical but also a little optimistic. Colin & Emily began talking long distance without ever meeting, sending videos to introduce themselves, emailing, texting, skyping, etc. Eventually they met in the airport when Colin went to pickup Sarah and EMILY jumped out. They started dating the day the met, and they fell for each other fast.” 8 months later…a surprise proposal in the Penguin Encounter at Seaworld . It just goes to show how a little fun, communication and some penguin passion can go along way.

Perfect Penguin Song

September 24, 2010

The Penguin Post has written about many penguin related topics this past year and even music related topics have crossed this blog,  but never before have we written about a singing penguin. Well, to be honest, Ricky The Rockhopper Penguin is squawking rather than singing like a bird, but by ‘eck is it a cracking tune that he has put his voice to! Ricky, who lives at London Zoo, was persuaded to put his tones to reel by Leeds-based trio G.U. Medicine. The band had written the track Ice Cold about their love of the alcoholic tipple Jagermeister, and when Ricky turned his ears to the number during a break from swimming with his penguin pals, he was hooked by the killer riffs and decided that he wanted a piece of the action. When City Nights was sent the video of the collaboration to watch it turned afternoon drear to office cheer. “Ricky certainly wasn’t microphone shy,” G.U. Medicine chap Ryan Senior revealed. “In fact, he tried to eat it! He squawked his vocal part like one of the true greats!” In honor of this stonking, lively thumper of a song, which could be the best rock collaboration since Aerosmith teamed up with Run DMC, City Nights has hooked up with Jagermeister and we have three goodie-bags to give away which are full of Jager-goodies. To be in with a chance of winning one, simply send an email to with your name and address.

Put ‘Penguin pop’ in the subject box.

Closing date for entries is Wednesday, September 29.

Now that Ricky has had a taste of the rock n roll lifestyle, we reckon that he might like another crack at the recording process and have come up with a few songs that might just fit the beak, erm we mean bill…

1 Simply The Nest – Tina Turner

2 Mull of Kintyre – Wings

3 The Birdy Song – The Tweets

4 Like a Penguin – Madonna

The band with Ricky the Penguin

5 Feather & Lace – Stevie Nicks

Phillip’s Island Penguins Star On The Small Screen

September 18, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that the private lives of Victoria’s penguins are revealed thanks to a sox-part television series being launched in Australia today. Producer Sally Ingleton says the series shows the lives and behaviour of the penguins, as well as their interaction with humans in the Phillip Island Nature Park. “We show the fact that they often aren’t faithful, that they do have affairs,” she said.  “Also sometimes that things go wrong. Sometimes suddenly the fish will go offshore and the little chicks will be left waiting there for two, three, four nights for mum and dad to come home and, you know, sometimes they don’t make it as well.” Ms Ingleton says Phillip Island’s penguin colony is unique because of its interaction with tourists, park rangers and researchers.  “We always found that when we were working on the series, what people loved was when the worlds of animals and people actually collide,” she said.  “That’s why this story is so unique because we’ve documented perhaps the last 18 months when people were actually living in the colony alongside penguins.” The series has screened on the BBC in the United Kingdom, attracting audiences of more than 3 million for each episode. The series starts in the U.S. on ABC1 on September 30.

International Penguin Conference

September 15, 2010

With Penguin Place one of the sponsors of last weeks International Penguin Conference at the New England Aquarium in Boston. The experts and scientists who gathered at the conference  have agreed on one thing. Of the 18 penguin species on Earth, 13 are considered either threatened or endangered, with some species on the brink of extinction.

“I hope that people will hear the word that they are in trouble, the oceans are in trouble,” said Heather Urquhart, manager of the New England Aquarium’s penguin exhibit and organizer of the conference. “I hope we get together and make some changes and hopefully stem the tide of what’s going on with these species.”

“They occupy a niche fairly unexplored by other bird species,” Urquhart said. “They evolved from birds of flight, and evolved not to fly so they could exploit the ocean resources that flying seabirds couldn’t get to. Many species spend 80 percent of their lives at sea.”

Emperor penguins are the largest of the penguin species, and mate and breed on the ice of Antarctica. They make a harrowing trek across up to 75 miles (120 kilometers) of ice to reach breeding colonies during the frigid Antarctic winter, and after chicks are born males and females take turns diving for food and caring for the young.

While this life can be rather austere, for now it is sustaining: Emperor penguins are rated of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

“I think they’re faring a lot better than some other species,” said conference presenter Gerry Kooyman, a biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego who studies emperor penguins. The “massive amount of Antarctic ice is a buffer; it adds some level of stability. Even though some of the ice is declining, there’s a much greater buffer of ice there than in the Arctic.”

Not faring so well are species such as erect-crested penguins, a New Zealand native that has lost about 70 percent of its population over the last 20 years. The Galápagos penguin, endemic to the Galápagos Islands around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, has experienced a population decline of over 50 percent since the 1970s, and faces a 30-percent chance of extinction in this century, said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium.

“One big incident could wipe out that population,” Urquhart said. Other species like the yellow-eyed penguin of New Zealand, and the northern rockhopper penguin that breeds on islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean, are also endangered (the latter has declined by 90 percent over the last 50 years, according to a 2009 paper in the journal Bird Conservation International).

African penguins, a once robust iconic species in Namibia and South Africa, have experienced a precipitous decline and were recently reclassified as endangered.

“It’s a very disturbing sign that that should happen in a species that was once so abundant, and it’s occurring right before our eyes,” Kooyman said.

The reasons for these declines vary according to species, with some penguins being hit from all sides by multiple threats. Common dangers to penguin survival are pollution and human appropriation of habitats, as well as new mammalian predators such as dogs, cats and weasels that have been introduced by humans to penguins’ environments. Some penguins are caught as by catch by commercial fishers, and others are starving because fisheries are harvesting most of the prey available to penguins. Oil dumping and algae blooms in the oceans are also wreaking havoc on their food supply and habitats.

Penguin Promotes Good Behavior in MIdwest

September 14, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that a large stuffed penguin has begun showing up in different locations at Hills Elementary in Iowa City, Iowa at the beginning of the current school year last week.  It showed up in classrooms and on the school’s website. It appeared at a puppet show produced by MBA students from the University of Iowa on Aug. 27. Late last week, it was scheduled to appear in a series of pictures to promote good behavior on the school’s playground. Sometime in October, the yet-to-be-named penguin could go home with a student who sold at least 15 items in a school fundraiser.  “It’s a little bit of a motivator,” said Kris Mowatt, director of the Hills family resource center. “We like it. It’s cute.” The stuffed penguin, standing about 3 feet tall, was left by Nonprofit Services, which was used by the school’s parent-teacher organization for a fundraiser. Through Wednesday, students sold items such as wrapping paper and cookie dough to benefit the school.

In this case, it will be used to pay back the PTO for its purchase of a $4,000 SmartTable, a tabletop computer system that students can use for reading, math and other subjects, Mowatt said. The SmartTable was purchased in memory of former student Gabe Graham, who died in a car accident over the summer, she said. “Equipment like this gets kids excited,” she said. “It’s a 21st century school. They’re learning to use technology.” Nonprofit Services left behind the penguin, which Mowatt said she intended to move out of the front office and use around the school to promote its Positive Behavior and Intervention System, or PBIS, program, including it showing good behavior traits on the playground. “We’re a PBIS school, so we thought we would use it to show our expectations,” Mowatt said. Students said they were happy to have the penguin around their school as sort of a mascot. “He’s fun and fuzzy,” said fourth-grader Rylee Harris, 9.  Fifth-grader Semaj House, 10, said he was hopeful the penguin would remain at the school. “We should keep it here because it’s cool,” he said.