Archive for June, 2011

Penguins Make Offer To Jagr To Return

June 30, 2011

Enough with the sand eating penguin on the other side of the world already.  The Penguin Post is intrigued to report that the contest to bring Jaromir Jagr back to the NHL after being away from the league for the past three seasons has officially reached a fever pitch. With the Pittsburgh Penguins expressing more than a passing interest in bringing the 39 year-old future Hall of Famer back for at least one more season.

Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports tonight that the Penguins have made a one-year offer to Jagr to bring him back to Pittsburgh for the first time since the end of the 2000-2001 season.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero confirmed yesterday that he has offered free agent right winger Jaromir Jagr a one-year contract — he declined to divulge the financial aspects of the proposal — and said he expect to learn Wednesday whether Jagr will accept it.

Jagr with classic hockey mullet during his heyday with Pens.

Happy Feet Faces A Long Swim, But Not Long Odds

June 30, 2011

Now that he’s / she’s (no one is sure yet) on the mend, New Zealand wildlife officials have been trying to figure out how the penguin known to the world as Happy feet will return home.  They don’t want HF to stay indefinitely at the zoo and have initially dismissed the idea of transporting it to Antarctica because of logistical difficulties, and the fear that it could transmit infections picked up during its New Zealand “vacation” to other penguins.  As reported to the Penguin Post on Wednesday, an advisory group headed by the NZ Department of Conservation decided officials will help the penguin get part of the way home by releasing it into the Southern Ocean, southeast of New Zealand – pointing it in the right direction and letting it swim the rest of the way.

“The reason for not returning the penguin directly to Antarctica is that emperor penguins of this age are usually found north of Antarctica on pack ice and in the open ocean,” the department’s biodiversity spokesman Peter Simpson said. The area where it will be released is on the northern edge of the region where young emperor penguins are known to live. Simpson said he was unsure how far the penguin would have to swim before reaching its final destination.

Since its 3 procedure on Monday the penguin has been recovering well at Wellington Zoo, where its undergone a series of medical procedures to help flush out the sand it swallowed after apparently mistaking it for snow. Doctors managed to remove about half the sand from its digestive system, and zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said X-rays showed the penguin was passing the rest of the sand naturally (ouch). By all accounts the hardy penguin is doing better than expected at this stage of its recovery and appears to be doing well in an air-conditioned room filled with large blocks of ice.

Happy Feet Happy To Be On Ice And Not Sand

Introducing Our Penguin Thermal Tote

June 29, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen.  Penguin Lovers of all ages. Introducing a very cool penguin item that actually helps keep things cool.  This large size 14″ x 9″ x 13″ insulated, thermal penguin grocery tote is perfect for shopping, travel, beach, picnics or camping. The industrial chic penguin design makes it fashionable as well as being environmentally friendly.  Made of re-cylced plastic that won’t rot or mildew, is virtually stain proof and cleans easily inside and out.  Half inch wide heavy duty, webbed handle straps, zipper enclosure for the top.  Folds flat for easy storage and transport.  This bag holds the equivalent of 2 -3 grocery bags.  Great gift or perfect to own one or two for your own use.

Holds up to 2 -3 normal sized grocery bags!!

Happy Feet To Be Set Free (Eventually)

June 29, 2011

This just in to the Penguin Post.  Happy Feet the wayward, sand eating emperor penguin is to be released in to the Southern Ocean once it is fit, an advisory group has decided today. The advisory group – comprising of representatives of the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington Zoo, Massey University and Te Papa – meet today to decide the fate of the penguin, who was found on New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast, Peka Peka Beach last week.

The group has agreed the preferred option for the emperor penguin is to release it in the Southern Ocean, the northern edge of the known range of juvenile emperor penguins. “The reason for not returning the penguin directly to Antarctica is that emperor penguins of this age are usually found north of Antarctica on pack ice and in the open ocean,” DOC biodiversity spokesperson Peter Simpson said. The penguin will not be released until it is deemed well enough to have a reasonable chance of survival and until that time the penguin will reside at Wellington Zoo. Plans are still in the early stages however, and more research is required into the logistics and practicalities of this option, including costs.

The bird remains in a stable condition at Wellington Zoo following an operation to remove sand and sticks from its stomach this week. X-rays this morning showed the penguin is continuing to pass sand and sticks naturally, spokeswoman Kate Baker said, and it will be x-rayed again either on Friday or Saturday. Penguins usually eat snow for hydration and to keep cool and it was believed Happy Feet ate the sand because it was confused about where it was. Massey University associate professor John Cockrem, from the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Science, who has been consulting with the Department of Conservation, had earlier advocated releasing the penguin from the south coast of the New Zealand once it is back to full health would be the best option.

“We would be releasing it into its own environment and a satellite tag could be used to track its progress,” Dr Cockrem said. “It would be returning to its natural life with the minimum of stress.”

Other options were keeping the bird in captivity either in New Zealand or overseas, or giving it a lift back home, however these have drawbacks. Millionaire businessman Gareth Morgan has offered to take the bird home by giving it a berth on a Russian icebreaker making an expedition to the Ross Sea in Antarctica in February. However taking Happy Feet back to Antarctica would be illegal under the Antarctic Treaty, and would require a special permit.

Also, returning the penguin to Antarctica could introduce diseases to the existing colonies, and there may be difficulty finding the bird’s original colony. Marine scientist AUT professor Dr Mark Orams has cautioned against being “seduced by the romantic notion of returning it to the wild”
without careful consideration of the penguin’s health, saying it may not survive Antarctica’s tough winter conditions. “To simply relocate it to where it came from may not be in its best interests,” he said. Dr Orams was also not confident the penguin would be able to make the swim back to Antarctica from New Zealand. “I think that would be a very difficult situation for that individual to be in,” he said. “It is a hell of a long way back to Antarctica and there is no guarantee that the individual will be either willing or able to cover that huge distance.


Happy Feet On The Road To Recovery (but not home).

June 28, 2011

The Penguin Post is pleased to report that full recovery for the young emperor penguin — affectionately dubbed Happy Feet — is looking more and more like a distinct possibility, although it may take months.  But, even given the first real optimistic prognosis in days officials are unsure when or how it could return home to the Antarctic, about 2,000 miles away. The penguin was recovering well after the an endoscopy performed by one of New Zealand’s leading surgeons — for human patients. Doctors at the Wellington Zoo guided a camera on a tube through the penguin’s swollen intestines and flushed its stomach to remove the swallowed sand and pieces of driftwood. Penguins eat snow to hydrate themselves during the harsh Antarctic winter. To ensure the health of its newest star, the zoo brought in Wellington Hospital specialist John Wyeth to help with the procedure, New Zealand Press Association reported. Monday’s surgery went well, and doctors removed about half of the remaining sand and several twigs from the bird’s digestive system, zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said. Medical staff hope the rest of the debris will pass naturally, but an X-ray is scheduled for Wednesday. “It’s positive news, but he’s definitely not out of the woods yet,” Baker said. The penguin is now dining on fish slurry and has been standing and appearing more active than when it arrived, Baker said. The bird was moved to the zoo Friday after its health worsened on the beach. The penguin is being housed in a room at the zoo chilled to about 46 degrees Fahrenheit, Baker said, and has a bed of ice on which it can sleep. Happy Feet (nicknamed by local authorities and the press from the 2006 animated movie), was discovered last week on a North Island beach, the first spotting of an emperor in New Zealand in 44 years. Emperors typically spend their entire lives around Antarctica. After landing on Peka Peka Beach last week, the penguin appeared health at first, but it became dehydraded, suffered heat exhaustion and was eating large amounts of sand.

What’s next for Happy Feet still remains to be decided. Peter Simpson, the program manager of diversity for the Department of Conservation, said he is meeting with penguin experts Wednesday at the zoo to consider options. He said it’s not simply a matter of tossing the penguin back into the ocean off New Zealand’s coast. “There’s no great rush to decide,” Simpson said. “It will most likely need more medical work over the next three months.” Simpson said the penguin will likely remain at the zoo for that time while it recovers. Gareth Morgan, a New Zealand investment adviser, has offered to transport the penguin back to Antarctica next February when he leads an expedition to the southern continent. But Simpson said that, while officials appreciate the offer, they may want to act before then. Simpson said the penguin may be older than experts first thought — perhaps up to 2 1/2 years old rather than the initial estimate of 10 months. It stands about 3 feet (80 centimeters) high. Experts still don’t know if it’s a male or female, Simpson said, although DNA samples should soon provide an answer.

Happy Feet up and about in its new enclosure as it recovers.

Happy Feet Making Progress

June 27, 2011

The Penguin Post is happy to report that “Happy Feet” the penguin is in recovery after doctors today removed an additional one liter of sandy fluid and handful of sticks from his stomach during an operation. Surgery started on Happy Feet this morning with doctors using a device to suck sand, sticks and fish out of its stomach. A leading Wellington surgeon helped work on the emperor penguin found on a Kapiti beach last week. The juvenile emperor penguin, found about 4000 kilometers from home on Peka Peka Beach last week is undergoing an endoscopy to find out what is making him sick. The 27kg bird was taken to Wellington Zoo where it has been staying in a makeshift, temperature-controlled room, on a bed of party ice. More than 100 people gathered at the zoo along with dozens of journalists. Doctors worked for about three hours to removed 1200ml of fluid and sand from its stomach along with a handful of sticks. The operation had to be stopped after some of the equipment they were using broke. It is now recovering and staff at the zoo said they would leave it to try and process the rest of his stomach contents before x-raying it again on Wednesday. Wellington Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said today the penguin was “bright” but remained in a critical condition. Ms Baker said Wellington Hospital gastroenterologist Dr John Wyeth would help with the procedure. Dr Wyeth did his training in Wellington and at the Royal Free Hospital in London. “Although we do endoscopies here, a gastroenterologist has a lot more experience and is also bringing along some specialized equipment,” she said. If Happy Feet pulls through another grueling operation today, penguin experts will debate whether taking the Antarctic bird back home is the best option. A Massey University penguin expert, Associate Professor John Cockrem, said choices included releasing the penguin into Foveaux Strait, or taking him back to Antarctica by boat or plane. But transporting the bird would be risky and could threaten his survival. If Happy Feet made it to Antarctica, then placing him with the other penguins would put them at risk of contracting diseases he may have picked up in New Zealand’s more tropical climes. The next trips to Antarctica are supply flights to Scott Base in August. Businessman Gareth Morgan had offered Happy Feet a berth on a Russian icebreaker ship, but that would not be until February. If he was released near Stewart Island, a tracking device could be used to follow his path, Mr Cockrem said. The cost of housing the penguin is being borne jointly by DOC and Wellington Zoo. He is staying in a makeshift, temperature-controlled room, on a bed of party ice. DOC biodiversity program manager Peter Simpson said they had “no idea” what to do yet, and would discuss a permanent solution in the next few days. This was by far the most bewildering conservation issue he had been involved in, he said. “It’s way outside of its usual operating range, and that’s why it’s so extraordinary that it’s survived.” Responding to criticisms that DOC should have acted earlier, Mr Simpson said there had been no reason to intervene until Happy Feet’s condition deteriorated. The penguin initially appeared healthy and experts had hoped that it would make its own way home. Elephant and leopard seals from Antarctica had become stranded on the New Zealand coast and usually left of their own accord.

Doctors prep Happy Feet for another round of stomach flushing preceedures.

Happy Feet May Have Happy Ending

June 26, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that New Zealand multimillionaire, philanthropist Gareth Morgan is coming to the rescue of Happy Feet, the stranded and desperately ill Emperor penguin. Morgan said that if Happy Feet survives, he would take it back to Antarctica on a Russian icebreaker. Morgan is leading an expedition to the Ross Sea on the Spirit of Enderby in February, and said Happy Feet and a Conservation Department minder was welcome to come along for the ride.  He also said that Happy Feet was welcome to jump ship at any time if he met other emperor penguins along the way.

Happy Feet not looking so happy spitting up sand he injested.

The wayward emperor penguin, who has in the last week captured New Zealand’s as well as the worlds hearts, was last night at Wellington Zoo recovering from dual operations to remove sand from its oesophagus and stomach. The Antarctic visitor apparently confused the sand with ice, which penguins eat to cool down, when it arrived on the Kapiti Coast, north of the capital.  Zoo veterinarian Lisa Argilla says the 3kg of sand threatened to harden into concrete balls that could rupture the penguin’s stomach. She said Happy Feet was in a critical condition, despite the surgery. The young penguin was last night in an air-conditioned room at the zoo, nibbling on shaved ice while it recovers from the surgery. Happy Feet was taken to the zoo’s hospital on Friday from Peka Peka beach where it was first seen earlier in the week.

It had become increasingly distressed and lethargic. On Friday vets removed sand from its oesophagus but x-rays revealed more in its stomach. Yesterday’s procedure involved pumping water into its stomach and, although a lot of sand was removed, vets say there is still a lot more to come out. Another procedure is likely to be carried out tomorrow but veterinarians say any further surgery after that would be a serious risk to the penguin’s life. Yesterday’s operation was watched by about 100 people behind a glass partition and a zoo spokesperson said the procedure went well. In addition to the comforts of air-con and shaved ice, Happy Feet is also hooked up to an IV drip to keep up its fluids. Vets, via Twitter, have also remarked that while everyone has been referring to Happy Feet as a “he”, it will take a few more days to determine its sex.  “Happy Feet” weighs about 27kg and is making headlines worldwide because of its 4000km swim to New Zealand.

When he recovers Happy Feet will be making the one way journey home on this Russian icebreaker.

Jumbo Penguins Waddle Back In!

June 25, 2011

Friday afternoon as my daughter and I arrived home back from school (the last day of school) we found at the bottom of the stairs about 10 huge boxes.  What the heck! We both exclaimed.  Upon inspecting the packing lists I realized that both our back ordered jumbo penguin plush, our Jumbo Emperor Chick and Giant Elvis Emperor Penguin plush had arrived at the same time.  After a half dozen trips up and down the stairs we finally made the last leg of the delivery of these over sized penguins to our igloo.

Jumbo Emperor Chick

Elvis the 33" "King" of our penguin plush inventory

Happy Feet Penguin Not So Happy In New Zealand

June 25, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that Happy Feet, the wayward young Emperor penguin is in  critical condition following a second operation to clear sand from his system. The penguin was first spied on Peka Peka Beach on Monday by resident Chris Wilton after swimming 4000 kilometers from Antarctica. Though the penguin appeared lively, he was obviously disorientated being out of his natural element and four days of eating sand and sticks caused his condition to rapidly deteriorate. Yesterday he was lethargic, occasionally trying to spit sand. About midday, Te Papa and Conservation Department officials whisked him to the zoo in a chiller. Vet science manager Lisa Argilla assessed the 27-kilogram bird as dehydrated, stressed, suffering from heat exhaustion and struggling to swallow – but still feisty enough to kick and struggle as she sedated him. Penguins in the Antarctic eat ice when trying to cool down, and he was trying to do the same with sand, Te Papa terrestrial vertebrates curator Colin Miskelly said. Last night he underwent a four-hour operation to clear his airway. This morning he went under again as vets tried to clear his stomach of sand. X-ray have shown there is still sand in the bird’s stomach and he will need a third operation. At the zoo’s operating theater last night, a captivated crowd of about 50 watched through the glass as vets worked quickly, discussing where best to insert a catheter and squeezing antibiotic ointment into his sand-filled, ulcer-covered eyes. Gently, Argilla began to squirt water down his throat. Moments later, sand began cascading into a bucket. His long-term future remains unclear, with DOC’s Peter Simpson saying he will be in discussions with penguin experts and other parties. “We have a dilemma. There is no transport to Antarctica this time of year … we’ll just have to take it day by day.” The last known emperor penguin to arrive on New Zealand shores was at Southland’s Oreti Beach in 1967. It was released into Foveaux Strait.

Medical team at Wellington Zoo pumping sand from "Happy Feet"

Beached New Zealand Emperor Penguin Ailing

June 24, 2011

This just in to the Penguin Post.  The emperor penguin from Peka Peka beach is due to undergo surgery this afternoon to find out why its condition has deteriorated. ‘Happy Feet’ was earlier taken to Wellington Zoo in a chilled box from the Kapiti Coast after the penguin’s behaviour changed markedly in the last few days. Conservation Department staff and penguin specialists have put Happy Feet into a room full of ice and will set up a air conditioner to keep the bird cool. DOC biodiversity manager Peter Simpson said veterinarians and Massey University penguin specialists had decided to move the emperor penguin after his condition deteriorated. A cordon had earlier been put up around the penguin keeping people about 40m away. The juvenile emperor penguin, which stands about a metre tall and weighs about 10 kilograms, was first spotted on Peka Peka Beach on Monday afternoon. But this morning its condition was such that it was lying on its stomach with its head on the sand. Chris Wilton, who first found the penguin on Monday, was on the beach this morning in tears. “I am really sad they [the Department of Conservation] did not do something earlier.” She said she wanted to go and say goodbye but DOC staff would not let her through the cordon. Staff from the department had headed to the site this morning after reports the penguin was acting strangely. Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly said the penguin had been acting inappropriately by eating sticks. Simpson earlier said the penguin was lethargic, and its behaviour was markedly different to the past few days. He said it might have an infection from eating sticks. Simpson said the biggest today’s concern was that it was sunny and the heat would adversely affect the penguin. “This morning when we checked it, it was still alive on the beach but it appears its condition has deteriorated a bit,” Simpson said. The penguin had been eating sand since it arrived – which might be an effort to cool itself down. Penguins normally eat snow if they get too hot. Returning the bird to Antarctica was not feasible because there was no transport there in winter and experts advised that large birds could suffer trauma if transported long distances, penguin expert Associate Professor John Cockrem from Massey University said. It is only the second recorded incident of an emperor penguin on New Zealand shores. A group of residents kept guard on the beach on Wednesday night and told DOC that drunken youths were “making a bloody nuisance of themselves”.

Ailing Emperor On The Beach In New Zealand