Archive for September, 2011

Chilly Willy Kids Hat

September 30, 2011

A funny thing happened when Penguin Place tried to order more Chilly Willy knit pilot hats today.  We found out that ZooZats™ is now offering kids Chilly Willy hats available for kids age 1-4.  Personally I can’t wait to get my 4 year old Rose in one of these.  Because of their construction and materials the adult Chilly Willy hats are said to fit kids as young as 5 all the way up to adults, and I can attest that they fit my 7 year old last winter as well as myself.

Adult and Kids Chilly Hat use the same cute design.

Meet Monsieur Pingouin / Mr. Penguin

September 30, 2011

About 10 years ago I received a letter in broken English from Belgium addressed to the Penguin Post from an wonderfully lovable,  eccentric penguin fanatic named Mr. Alfred David, aka Monsieur Pingouin.   In his letter Monsieur Pingouin wanted nothing more than to tell me about his incredible passion for penguins, his penguin collection “museum”, and that he rarely takes off his home made penguin costume in his  hope that by dressing like a penguin, eating lots of fish and acting like a penguin will somehow morph him into a penguin or something close.  Back then we did a small write up in the print version of the Penguin Post about our Belgian penguin friend and have rarely heard about him since. Being that he’s in Belgium and is not connected to the internet it’s been hard to keep tabs on Mr. David (no relation to Larry), but every once in a while I’m asked by fellow penguin lovers and the media if I know how Mr. David is doing and is he still Monsieur Pingouin?   Well,  these days Monsieur Penguin is an elderly pensioner who now dreams that one day he’ll find eternal rest in the icy waters somewhere near Antarctica, dressed in his penguin suit and laid out in a coffin decorated with penguins.  The 79-year-old Monsieur Pingouin, as he is known to locals in his Brussels neighborhood, still dons his favorite hooded black-and-white penguin costume, and his waddle is less pronounced with the canes he uses to help him get around as he looks back at more than 40 years of obsession. “My ultimate dream is to be buried in a deep ocean close to where penguins live,” David told Reuters. David’s life changed in May 1968 when his hip was injured in a car accident. His resulting limp was characterized by his colleagues as a waddle, and they dubbed him Mr Penguin. As a consequence he embraced an interest in the flightless sea bird and began collecting everything he could find that had a link with the animal. As his obsession grew, he eventually set up a museum in his home displayed some 3,500 items of penguin memorabilia. His wife showed him and his collection the door when he told her he wanted to officially change his name to Mr Penguin. David later donated his penguin collection — which ranged from penguin lavatory paper to cups and toys — to a local soccer team to raise money for the club. Proud of the international media interest he has attracted to the penguin cause, David has appeared on dozens of TV shows over the years and was invited as a special guest to the 1992 Amsterdam premiere of Batman Returns — which featured Danny DeVito as the hero’s nemesis “The Penguin.” In an era of movies such as “Happy Feet,” “March of the Penguins” and “Mr Popper’s Penguins,” television spots are rarer for him nowadays. He is still well-known in the streets of Schaerbeek, the Brussels district where he lives and where the residents greet him: “How are you today Monsieur Pingouin?” Taking a glass of red wine between his penguin-suit wings, David said he still needed to use his thumbs after all these years to make sure he does not spill.  Sometimes waiting for evolution can be a bitch.

Penguin Book Tops Banned List

September 29, 2011

Did you know that this is Banned Books Week?  The Penguin Post didn’t until we were set straight by the folks at Care2.com and once again a penguin book has topped the list.  The true story of a pair of gay penguins in And Tango Makes Three has been an annual banned book list topper since 2005. The Central Park Zoo in New York has an unlikely, but lovable pair of penguins, and the true story of these penguins was so charming that Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell teamed up with well-known illustrator Henry Cole to create a children’s book out of the story.  They called it “And Tango Makes Three.”  It has been on the banned books list since it was published in 2005.  It is usually listed as the number one most-banned title, although one year went fell to second place. Roy and Silo are a pair of chinstrap penguins who reside in the penguin quarters.  When the girl penguins noticed the boy penguins and when the boy penguins noticed the girl penguins, Roy and Silo, two boys, noticed each other.  They bowed and sang to each other and made a nice nest.  But it was a little empty.  They then noticed that the other Penguins couples could do something they could not do.  They tried and tried, even rolling an egg shaped rock and sitting on it for hours, but they could not hatch it. One of the zookeepers noticed, and when another penguin couple produced two fertile eggs, he gave one of the m to Roy and Silo.  The odds of having two fertile eggs raised to adulthood by one couple are slim.  Twins are hard everywhere, it seems. Roy and Silo knew ‘just what to do” and kept the egg warm, turning it over and over so all sides would benefit, and finally, their daughter Tango arrived. (Get it? Because it takes two to make a Tango?).  Her fathers fed her and sang to her and snuggled her warm at night. “She was the very first penguin to have two daddies.” And there it is, the line that prompted the ban. This book talks about love, and family, and the heartbreak of being childless.  It talks about families who are not conventional and who love each other anyway.  Indeed the inside fly cover reads: “In the zoo there are all kinds of families.  But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.” Now, as far as I could research, Tango, Roy and Silo are still a happy family.  It took the kindness  of a zookeeper, and an extra egg to create it.  It makes me wonder what would happen if there were kind zookeepers in the wild.  Maybe Tango would not have been the first penguin with two daddies, or two mommies. The concept of homosexuality is the reason for the ban.  Except the book isn’t about that, and it is now on my bookshelf, where any of my friends can read it, no matter their age. Children between the ages of six and nine have definite ideas about gender roles, but are willing to accept the idea of two daddies, or two mommies, or one mommy or one daddy.  This is 2011. They live with all different kinds of families now. I showed it to a 13-year-old friend of mine, and he flipped through the pages trying to find the reason for the ban.  He couldn’t do it.  He didn’t see anything wrong with Roy and Silo. I am so grateful for that, and hope that many more kids see this book the same way.  Better yet, that their parents do.

Penguin Patrol

September 29, 2011

Not that I have time to play some silly game on my phone, but if I did play one it would probably be Penguin Patrol.  Penguin Place has been informed by Grab Games LLC and Intrinsic Games LLC that they have launched Penguin Patrol, a charming and challenging puzzle game on the App Store where players must rescue everyone’s favorite flightless birds from the vile clutches of the evil (but oddly stylish) Walrus!  In Penguin Patrol, players must carefully navigate the different kinds of terrain through over 50 levels of the Antarctic wilderness in order to successfully rescue the penguins and bring them to safety. With each step taken, the ice beneath breaks so players are literally walking on thin ice. The ground (or lack of) isn’t the only challenge faced by players, though-the penguins themselves can be temperamental, and each type has their own unique personality traits. Players will have to wrangle the overly-excited Playful Penguin who runs away as it is approached, push the Fatty Penguin to safety, or figure out how to entice the stubborn Bratty Penguin to get on board! One to three stars are awarded based upon your performance on each level. Created and developed by Intrinsic Games, Penguin Patrol features Game Center and Retina Display support. Penguin Patrol is $0.99 and is available now through the App Store. For more information, including screenshots and video, please visit www.penguinpatrol.com.

Inside Penguin Place In Pictures

September 28, 2011

Being an on-line / mail order company nearly all our customers have never set foot in our “Igloo”.  So, here’s a little sneak peak at Penguin Place, and our office / warehouse featuring my daughter Sophie.

A look at some of our plush and houseware with Sophie peaking out from behind the packing table.

Where we keep most of our incredible selection of penguin toys including the legendary penguin pooper.

Sophie in the Captains chair with some of our plush and penguin toys in the background.

Packing table, desk and view out the window. Notice some of my personal penguin collection in the window frame..

Some of our penguin tee and sweatshirts. On the right is our 2012 penguin calendars and tissue boxes.

Penguin Ice Bucket

September 28, 2011

When my new Boston Warehouse Holiday Season catalog arrived yesterday there on page 5 among the other other cool penguin items BW has to offer was the wonderful penguin ice bucket.  Although my rep Nila had told me the ice bucket had been discontinued and no longer available there it was.  So, naturally I called hoping that perhaps the appearance in the catalog meant the ice bucket had been given a reprieve and was back in stock.  Alas, it was only wishful thinking as Nila explained to me this ice bucket had indeed been discontinued, but, and the big but was that some customers may have opted out of their original ice bucket orders and a few (anywhere between a couple and a dozen) might be up for grabs.  I told Nila I’ll take as many as she could rustle up for me, and she promised to call me back with an penguin ice bucket count within the hour.  45 minutes later Penguin Place had 7 Boston Warehouse Ice Buckets on the way, but she assured me these are the last of their kind.  So, folks if it’s a Penguin Ice Bucket you need the time to act is now.

That's one cool ice bucket

Penguins Trust Their Beaks (Literally).

September 22, 2011

Apparently, penguins can sniff out the odor of lifelong mates, helping them reunite in crowded colonies, and also can identify the scent of close kin to avoid inbreeding, scientists said on Wednesday. Some seabirds have previously been known to use their sense of smell to find food or locate nesting sites but the experiments with captive Humboldt Penguins at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago proved, for the first time, that the birds use scent to discriminate between close relatives and strangers. “Other animals do it, we do it, so why can’t penguins?” said Jill Mateo, a biopsychologist at the University of Chicago, who worked with graduate student Heather Coffin on the research published in the journal PLoS ONE. “Their sense of smell can help them find their mates and perhaps choose their mates,” Mateo said. “Penguins that travel long distances in the ocean use odors to find food and use odors to recognize nests but we didn’t know what odors or the extent to which they could use odors to recognize kin,” Mateo said. “This was the first study to show they can use odor to recognize genetic differences,” she said. Researchers worked with two groups of endangered Humboldt Penguins raised at the zoo, totaling 22 birds. Their behavior was recorded as the birds examined scents emitted by oil from the birds’ preening glands. The gland near the bird’s tail excretes oil used to keep them clean but also has an olfactory purpose.  In one experiment, penguins with mates preferred the comfort of their mates’ scent over the scents of unfamiliar penguins. In another, penguins without mates spent twice as long investigating unfamiliar penguins’ scents than those belonging to their close relatives. “In all sorts of animals that we study, including human babies, novel odors, novel cues, are investigated longer than less-novel cues,” Mateo said. Scent is used by many species to attract mates, or to avoid mating with relatives, she said. For Humboldt penguins, which nest on Peruvian cliffs and spend long periods foraging at sea, odor acts as an identifier when they return to colonies crowded with thousands of birds nesting in cracks and crevices. “It’s important for birds that live in large groups in the wild, like penguins, to know who their neighbors are so that they can find their nesting areas and also, through experience, know how to get along with the birds nearby,” said animal behavior expert Dr. Jason Watters of the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo. “It could also be true that birds may be able to help zoo matchmakers in determining potential mates,” Watters told the Penguin Post. “You could imagine that if (naturalists) were trying to reintroduce birds to an area, you could first treat the area with an odor the birds were familiar with. That would make them more likely to stay,” he said.

Penguins follow their noses a lot more than previously thought

Busy Week For Yankee Penguins

September 22, 2011

Mystic, CT.  As told to the Penguin Post it’s been a whirlwind week so far for Mystic Aquarium’s African penguin colony. On Monday, aquarium penguins and staff visited Get Fired Up ceramics studio in Pawcatuck to create art to be given away as prizes during the Fifth Annual Penguin Run/Walk on Oct. 15 at the aquarium. Penguins had their feet dabbed with non-toxic paint before waddling across blank tiles to create works of art. Painting is a form of enrichment for the penguins. They are trained to stick out their feet to allow trainers to examine them as part of Mystic Aquarium’s animal care program. The Oct. 15 event will consist of a 5k run, a 2-mile walk and a quarter-mile kids race, with penguin-made prizes awarded in various categories. Visit www.mysticaquarium.org/visit/penguin-runwalk for more information.

Mystic Aquarium African penguin trainer Sarah Dunn holds out Blue Blue, of the the aquarium's penguins, for a little girl. The penguin had its feet dabbed in non-toxic paint and walked across tiles and canvas to create art on Monday at Get Fired Up ceramics studio in Pawcatuck. The artwork will be given as awards at the fifth annual Penguin Run/Walk on Oct. 15 at the aquarium.

On Tuesday, the aquarium announced the death of Yellow Red, also known as “String,” a 19-year-old female African penguin, who passed away unexpectedly on Friday. String was hatched at the Aquarium on October 4, 1991. An African penguin’s life expectancy is 18 to 20 years in the wild, but they can live into their mid-30s in zoos and aquariums, the aquarium said in a release. The cause of the penguin’s death is still unknown. Because of her curious and calm nature, String was an outstanding contributor to aquarium’s interactive programming, the release said. She was the first to participate in a penguin encounter and make a penguin painting, and she helped develop the aquarium’s penguin training program that uses tactile reinforcement. String often appeared at public events and in the media, including appearances on national television. Mystic Aquarium’s African penguins serve as ambassadors for their wild, endangered counterparts. Over the last six years, the world’s population has decreased by an alarming 60 percent. The public can contribute to the aquarium’s African penguin conservation efforts by visiting on Oct. 8 during the aquarium’s African Penguin Awareness Day celebration and by participating in the Oct. 15 run.

Penguin Stuff

September 21, 2011

When folks ask me what I do I usually pause a bit. I know that the simple response of I sell penguins will no doubt elicit a puzzled look, and then an onslaught of follow-up questions. It seems that over the years I’ve become use to such an exchange and I’ve learned that the term most people can wrap their minds around is “I sell penguin stuff.”  If you think about it it’s much more appropriate  than I sell penguin toys, or gifts or even I sell everything to do with penguins.  Everyone knows stuff, and I sell penguin stuff seems to do the trick for a starting point.  9 times out of 10 by saying “penguin stuff”,  people almost immediately get it, and start ticking off the penguin sub-categories on their own in an attempt to find something that I don’t have (which may be a shorter list).  They’ll ask with a grin if I carry socks, earrings, salt and pepper shakers, flags, hats, puzzles, night lights, wind ups, slippers…?  Got it, got it, got it, I’ll reply.  Finally, when they tire of their list of things I do have they’ll usually ask if I have a real penguin?  Well, yes and no I say to their surprise.  I do have a real one, but he’s no longer alive referring to the taxidermied Adelie that was willed to me by a long time customer and is in my P-Bay Section.   So, with almost 800 different penguin items (new and used) at Penguin Place, I guess the best short answer to the age old busy body question of what I do is, I sell penguin stuff.

Our penguin bottle butler is just one of our 800 different penguin items.

Gay Penguins Married

September 21, 2011

As told to the Penguin Post, a pair of male penguins who have been a long term couple have been given a wedding ceremony by their keepers at a Chinese Zoo. The African male penguins have turned out to be such a great parenting pair their keepers thought they deserved a reward and recognition and hold a ceremony for them. They were once given the cold shoulder at the wildlife park in China for stealing heterosexual penguin couples’ eggs to nest as their own. But after being allowed to nest with eggs rejected by other penguins the couple have become the zoo’s best penguin parents. Now keepers at Polarland Zoo in Harbin, north east China, have rewarded their devotion with a wedding day. One wore a tie and the other was dressed in a red blouse – a traditional Chinese bridal color – as they stepped into their icy wedding room to the music of the Wedding March. Keepers then served them their favorite dish for the occasion – spring fish. “They have been a good couple and deserved their reward,” said one keeper. We second the motion.

The Happy Couple At Their Wedding