Archive for October, 2010

New Penguin Place All-Penguin Website

October 22, 2010

We’re proud to announce the launching of our new Penguin Place website that is replacing our other new Penguin Place website.  Sadly, although our Penguin Place 2.0 website was only 3 months old, it was filled with trouble from the get go that no amount of trouble shooting seemed to be enough.  Let’s just say we’ll never use Joomla again to build a website.  After months of frustration we decided to spend the last three weeks focused on building something in WordPress that would make even an Emperor Penguin proud, and just in time for my birthday (tomorrow), we launched today.  We still need to build a custom checkout platform as for the time being we’re partnering with PayPal (which is as secure as they come) for our checkout.

But, we’ve now got a easy to navigate category section, a real Gift Certificate option, a new P-Bay category, soon to be offered wish list and flat rate shipping and of course a fun new design and layout.  We’re hoping the penguin loving public and our long time customers forgive us for the last few months of a sub-par Penguin Place and enjoy our latest and best all-penguin website on the interweb.

Gay Penguins Of Convenience?

October 21, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that the high male-to-female ratio in a colony of king penguins in Antarctica may explain why lots of males are pairing up at least temporarily, until they can find a more preferable (and reproductive) mate, according to the BBC News.  In a study published in the journal Ethology, researchers found that more than 28 percent of the colony birds showed courtship displays to penguins of the same sex, with the majority being between males. Displays with potential partners included closing their eyes, stretching their heads skyward and moving them in a half-circle to take peeks at one another, BBC notes.  Even so, only two pairs bonded by learning each other’s calls (an essential step in the penguin-pairing process) and both couples were later observed caring for eggs in male-female pairs. The researchers suggest both a high male-female ratio along with high testosterone levels in males may explain the homosexual “flirting.” However, that doesn’t explain female-female displays.

The king penguins are not alone. According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Böckman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others. More than 130 bird species are known to engage in homosexual behaviors. In a recent study, the sex that partook in more same-sex canoodling for birds was the one with fewer parenting responsibilities (because they could).

Penguin Condos

October 20, 2010

“Condo” developers have built beach-front homes along the world-famous coastline of the Galapagos Islands — but the Penguin Post has learned it’s all for a good cause.  Built into the volcanic shoreline, the condos are actually tiny breeding caves for Galapagos penguins — a species listed as endangered.   The 120 caves were dug by researchers with the University of Washington last month in the hopes of giving the penguins a fighting chance against predators and the beating sun.

The local penguin population has also seen older nests disappear due to erosion and volcanic activity on the islands off Ecuador made famous by Charles Darwin.

A one bedroom "penguin condo" is prepared last month along the Galapagos coastline.

“Our whole goal is to increase the population of Galapagos penguins, and the way to do that is to make sure that when conditions are good, when they’re not food challenged, that all of them will be able to breed,” lead researcher Dee Boersma said in a statement.

Boersma began studying the species 40 years ago and has seen the population decline steadily — fewer than 2,000 might be all that are left.  “One of the biggest problems is the introduced species of predators” to the Galapagos — including pigs, dogs, cats and rats, Boersma said. “We went to lengths to build nests in places where there aren’t introduced predators.”   The team built 100 nests in relative close clusts as well as 20 farther apart — “in case some penguins prefer to be more isolated,” the researchers said.  Boersma plans to return in February to evaluate the project, but was already hopeful after seeing La Nina ocean conditions bring plentiful food to the penguins.

A Galapagos penguin and two chicks hang out on volcanic rocks near new nests built last month.

“We found everything from eggs to small chicks to near-fledglings because the food is so good” now, she said. “The penguins are ready, if the food stays, to begin breeding. The question is will they find these new nest sites in time.”

French Penguin Chicks First Waddle

October 17, 2010

An African penguin chick walks out of his nest at the Tropiquarium in Servion near Lausanne October 16, 2010. The eggs were incubated by the parents for around a month, then the babies stayed under them for a few weeks in order to gain weight and slowly adventured outside their nest since October 14 according to the Tropiquarium owner Philippe Morel.

Penguins Race For Charity

October 17, 2010

Mystic, Ct – Veterinarian Dr. Jen Flower, trainers Erin Gibbons and Tracy Camp and assistant trainer Melissa Carle coax their penguins to the finish line of one of the penguin races held in the Marine Theater at Mystic Aquarium Saturday.  The penguin races were held after the Run Walk for the Penguins 5K run and two-mile walk to raise funds for the penguins held at the aquarium.

Penguin Doesn’t Pick On Someone His Own Size

October 12, 2010

The Penguin Post has come across what may be the feistiest penguin north of the South Pole.  It seems that this King penguin found a giant elephant seal blocking his path to the water, he stood his ground and then gave the elephant seal slap with his flipper.  It wasn’t long before the giant beast let out a huge roar giving the spunky penguin an incentive to find an alternate route around him.  The altercation on the South Atlantic island of South Georgia was captured by British wildlife photographer Robert Fuller, 38.  He said: ‘Several seals had just come out of the surf and were lying on the shore blocking the penguins from getting to the water. But this young penguin was full of bravado.”  Perhaps had he access to a slingshot things would have turned out differently.

 

I'm waddling here, I'm waddling here!

 

Sheepdogs Used to Guard Penguins Down Under

October 9, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that sheepdogs have helped  guard a colony of fairy penguins in Australia, and proven themselves to be very good at their job.  So good, in fact, that conservationists are pondering what other threatened animals these K9s can protect.  A colony of fairy penguins on Warrnambool’s Middle Island off the south coast of Australia has dwindled dramatically due to attacks by foxes and wild dogs. However, their numbers are rising again thanks to their new bodyguards – two Maremmas, an Italian breed of sheepdog that bonds with the flock or herd of animals it is protecting. ‘We’re now starting to see some great results,’ said Middle Island Maremma Project manager Ian Fitzgibbons. ‘We’ve had our best penguin count since we began in 2006 with over 80 birds counted in one night and I think we have about 26 chicks on the island too.’   Using the dogs to protect this penguin colony was just an experiment, but it’s proven to be a successful one. Now, researchers of various other threatened animals can scratch their heads and ponder if a couple of Maremmas might just help our their own efforts.

This dog digs penguins

The Fish and The Penguin (or Sophie and Milo)

October 8, 2010

About a month ago my 7 year old daughter Sophie and I set off to write a book for her friend Milo for his birthday present.  Sophie and Milo have been the best of friends since the day they met when they were only about 6 months old.  Last year Sophie and her family moved from Brooklyn N.Y. to Northampton, Mass.  We still manage see Milo about once a month, and they’re still great pals.  Here’s our story.

After six long months the sun was finally beginning to set on the Antarctic Summer and yet Milo still had not taken his first swim.  In fact he had not even put one flipper in the water. Ever.

In the final weeks before the start of the long dark winter all the young penguins in the colony must learn to swim in preparation for the following Spring, but not Milo, and his parents were starting to worry.
“Milo, tomorrow is the last day before the sun sets for Winter. If you don’t get your feathers wet you’ll never learn how to swim, and come first light next Spring the entire colony will go to sea without you,” said his father.   “Please Milo, you must learn to swim like the rest of your friends,” pleaded his mother.  “It’s what all penguins need to do”.  Finally, Milo gave in.  “I will, Mom and Dad.  I will swim tomorrow,”  promised Milo.  “Tomorrow, I’ll swim!” He said with a confident grin.
The next morning, as usual Milo’s friends stopped by his igloo to see if he’d swim with them.  But today, to everyone’s delight, he accepted and off they all went to the ocean.
Milo of course was last on line as he nervously waddled down to the shore and gazed out on the edge of the ice as his friends fearlessly dove in.  Suddenly, another young penguin came sliding down the hill on his belly and knocked into Milo who lost his balance and toppled beak over flipper into the water. “Help! Help!  I can’t swim!” Milo called out in a panic.  “Help!  Hey, wait a minute”. Thought Milo, “I can swim! This is easy”.  And, as is the case
with all penguins, they can do two things really, really well:  Swim and waddle, and as it turned out all Milo ever needed to do was try.
“I’m swimming, I’m swimming”!  Milo called out proudly to no one in particular, but it didn’t matter, because no one could hear him. In all his excitement Milo had wandered away from his friends and he soon realized he was lost.
“I wonder where everyone can be? Oh well, they can’t be far”. Milo thought still bursting with pride as he began to explore the new underwater world all around him.
As morning turned to afternoon Milo began to worry. “There’s only a couple of hours of daylight left,” Milo thought to himself, “and I have no idea where my home is.”
Meanwhile back on the icy shores of Antarctica Milo’s parents began to worry as they looked out onto the vast ocean with no sign of their boy.
“Excuse me, sir,” said Milo to a sleepy Octopus. “Do you know how to get to the penguin colony from here?”  “Hmmm, nope sorry, I can’t say I’ve ever been there.” Replied the groggy Octopus.  An anxious Milo repeated the same question to every sea creature he came across.  “Can’t say that I do.”  Said the Orca.  “I think I was there along time ago.”  Said an Eel.  “Or maybe I’m thinking of the
seal colony.”  “I know it’s either this way, or is it that way. ” Said a Sea horse.  “Or, maybe it’s that way.” He said, now pointing in a third direction.  Milo just shook his head, said thank you and swam away.
Meanwhile back on shore the sun was about to set. All the young penguins had long since returned as Milo’s parents continued to stare out at the sea hoping for his return.
While in an underwater twilight, lost and far from home, Milo had just about given up hope and he began to softly cry as darkness began to settle in around him. “I’ll never get to see my home, my friends or my parents again.” said Milo sadly.
“Hey, little penguin. why so sad? Are you lost?”  Said a colorful, young fish.  “I am.” Said Milo.  It’s my first day in the ocean and I got separated from my friends and now I’m…I’m…I’m, well…”  “Lost.” said the fish finishing Milo’s sentence.  “Yeah, I guess I am.”  Said Milo.  “And I don’t know how to get back to the penguin colony.  Hey, do you know where it is?”   “Penguin colony, piece of cake.”  Replied the colorful fish confidently.  “But, we better get going before it gets dark.”

“Wow!  Thanks.  My name’s Milo, what’s yours?”  “I’m Sophie. Now, follow me Milo, and try to keep up,”  she said with a smile, and off they went.

On their journey, Milo stuck close to Sophie.  All the while the new friends talked, laughed and learned about each other. “It must be fun to be able to waddle on land and slide on your belly,” said Sophie.  “It  must be cool to live in the ocean with so much to see,” replied Milo.  “I never dreamed it could be so beautiful”. 
As they swam the underwater shadows grew longer by the minute, but just as the sun was about to set the two friends  spotted the icy shore of Antarctica in the distance.   But, at the same time they also spotted something else behind them.  A hungry leopard seal.  “Hurry, Milo!”  Sophie shouted as they made a mad dash for shore as the fast moving predator closed in.

On shore Milo’s parents had just about given up all hope as they watched the final amber sun set of the season that was about to usher in six long, dark months of an Antarctic winter.  All of a sudden Milo burst through the top of the water with enough speed to carry him clear over his parents heads and straight into a snow bank.  In fact some penguins swear they actually saw Milo fly, if only for a moment.
Overjoyed, his parents took Milo home to celebrate, but all Milo could think of was Sophie.  “I wonder if I’ll ever see her again?” he thought. “I wonder where she is right now?”  Meanwhile only a short distance, but a world away Sophie was thinking the exact same thing.  “I’m sure glad Milo made it home O.K., but I miss him already. I wonder if I’ll ever see him again?”
During the long, dark winter months Milo went to school, studied hard to learn the ways of adult penguins, and grew, trading in his gray feathers for a handsome black and white coat.  But the whole time he could not stop thinking about his friend Sophie.  For, him Spring could not come fast enough so he could set out and try to find his friend.
Finally, after six of the longest months of Milo’s young life the sun began to rise over the eastern icebergs and the penguin colony at long last began to march towards the sea, this time led by Milo.  By the time the sun had cleared the horizon Milo had already entered the water.
Excited, Milo tried to retrace his and Sophie’s steps from six months ago as best he could, but the ocean was a big place and he’d only been in it once before.  It wasn’t long before he was seeking help.  “Excuse me .“  He said to just about every sea creature who’s attention he came across.  “Have you seen a very colorful fish?’  She has an orange dot on her head and is about as long as my flipper.” He’d ask.  Most of the responses went along the lines. “Colorful fish you say?  Hmmm….lot’s of colorful fish down here.  Long as your flipper, hmmm….orange dot?  Can’t say that I have.  Nope.  Sorry, my young friend.  I’ll ask around, but I can’t remember seeing that particular fish.  It only got light out this morning ya know, besides young fella, there are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Finally after hours of searching.  Exhausted, hungry, sad and about to give up, Milo sat on a rock at the bottom of the sea and sighed. “I guess I’ll never see Sophie again. I don’t know what I was thinking hoping to find one little fish in a great big ocean.”  Then he thought he heard a familiar voice coming from behind him sounding just as sad. The sad voice was also saying how she’ll never see her friend again.  It sounded like Sophie, but when Milo turned to look she was no longer the size of Milo’s flipper, and she was not just colorful. She was beautiful.  Just like Milo, Sophie had also grown up. 
“Sophie?!” Is that really you?”  “Milo?!  I can’t believe it!  Look at you Milo in your penguin tuxedo.”  Then at the exact same time they both shouted, “I can’t believe I found you!!”

The rest of the day the two friends played, laughed and talked as if a day hadn’t past since they had last been together, and when it finally came time for both of them to head home Milo said. “See ya here tomorrow Sophie, same time?”  “Absolutely! “ she replied. “And the day after that.” she giggled.  “And the day after that” Milo shot back.
“And the day after that” Milo replied with a grin, and then as they swam away  together flipper in flipper they began to repeat together.
And the day after that
and the day after that
and the day after that
and the day after that
and the day after that……..

Penguin Ed’s B & B

October 8, 2010

Fifty delicious years ago, the B & B opened in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s now called Penguin Ed’s B & B and it’s not far from the University of Arkansas campus.  They’re still located on the ‘S’ curve off South School. You can smell the greatness every time you drive by.  Ed “Penguin” Knight bought the business in 1998 and wanted to maintain the original charm. “When people come back after many years, they’re glad to see that not much has changed,” says Knight. “We have maintained our ransackle charm as a Gazette reporter once said.”  This Saturday, the Penguin Ed’s staff will offer $3 buffet meal, reminiscent of the 1960s when the place first opened up. They’ll serve the buffet at lunchtime and again at night from 5 to 8 pm.
David Bassett’s family built the business and eventually sold to the Knights.
He says if it wasn’t for the Arkansas students, the Penguin B&B would have closed down. “Thank goodness for the University of Arkansas. They didn’t serve dinner on Sundays back then so we would deliver up to 500 meals per Sunday. That literally kept the doors open,” says Bassett.

10 Penguins Waddle To Nebraska

October 8, 2010

Two Humboldt penguins will dive into their new outdoor habitat at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo on Thursday morning. Lannie, 3, and Hugo, 2, are the first of 10 expected to call the zoo home. Three more male penguins are to join them next month, and five females penguins will arrive in the spring, said zoo Executive Director John Chapo. All 10 are genetically diverse, ensuring their offspring will help replenish the threatened species, Chapo said. The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is one of 16 zoos in the country chosen to care for the Humboldt penguin — the rarest penguin species. While the penguins will get the attention in the final days of the zoo’s season, the new habitat is definitely a showstopper. Chapo jokingly refers to it as a “penguin palace” — and said that by comparison to other penguin facilities in the U.S., it truly is, with its state-of-the-art pools and filtration system. The Humboldt Penguin Habitat is where the harbor seal exhibit was, in the center of the zoo.

The 45,000-gallon outdoor pool has been renovated, painted and equipped with a water filtration system. A rock island with two over-the-water bridges will let the penguins swim the entire pool, as well as get out and sun themselves. The zoo replaced the wooden deck around the pool with a stone patio. A 4-foot-tall clear glass partition separates penguins from visitors, allowing for unobstructed viewing for small children and people using wheelchairs or strollers. The new viewing area is twice the size it was for the seals. A 10-foot-tall photograph mural of penguins in their natural habitat provides a backdrop. The photo was shot off the coast of Chile by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore of Lincoln. Large rocks in the back of the exhibit will serve as a nesting area for the birds.

Eventually, the zoo will put in a shade screen for visitors, and a penguin camera so visitors can watch the birds via the Internet. “The exhibit is designed for very up-close encounters and discovery of the penguins,” Chapo said. It also is designed to make the penguins extremely comfortable to thrive and reproduce, he said. Unlike other penguin species, the Humboldt penguin, which is native to the coasts of Peru and Chile, prefers a warmer climate. So in winter, when the zoo is closed for the season, the penguins will move into the new Hugo and Thelma Aspegren Conservation Center. The center has a 3-foot-deep, 4,655-gallon indoor pool, with the same filtration system, as well as a holding area and a deck for zookeepers to train the birds. The center features skylights for natural lighting, heating and air conditioning. Initially, the zoo expected the penguins to arrive during the summer, but because they are coming from zoos all over the country (for the genetic diversity), logistics delayed their arrival. “The goal here is to breed. We are a conservation facility and we are honored to be selected to breed and care for the species,” Chapo said. Humboldt penguins can breed at any time of the year. Females lay as many as three eggs at a time. The males and females take turns keeping the eggs warm until they hatch — in about 40 days. The young will stay with their parents until they turn 1, and will then be moved to other zoos to continue conservancy efforts, Chapo said. “It’s a win-win situation. The penguins are a wonderful species for children to enjoy, and great species for conservation efforts.”  The $300,000 exhibit was paid for with a $150,000 grant from the Lancaster County Board’s Visitors Improvement Fund, gifts from the Hugo and Thelma Aspegren Charitable Trust and the WRK Family Foundation, and other local donors.

Additional funding is being sought to support the penguins’ care and dietary needs. People can make donations by adopting a penguin or becoming a “penguin parent” at www.lincolnzoo.org.

Hugo swims under water in his temporary holding pool at the Lincoln Children's Zoo on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. He is on of 10 Humboldt penguins to eventually call the zoo home.