Archive for August, 2012

Stolen Penguin Bin Returned

August 28, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that a talking penguin garbage bin that was stolen from Bourne Outdoor Pool in Bourne, England has been found and returned to the charity. The missing bin was first spotted by two people on Saturday on grassland near The Ridings in Elsea Park in Bourne, but by the time police had arrived the bin had already been removed. However it was later discovered on the remains of the old railway bridge off Raymond Mays Way by two BRM Day committee members Richard Bostock and Anthony Delaine-Smith, when they were completing an inspection of the southern park and ride car park side for the groups event on October 7. They were alerted to its location by a passing dog walker. The bin, worth about £450, was taken from the pool on the Abbey Lawn, which is a registered charity, on Friday night last week. Richard said: “It was a little difficult to explain to the Lincolnshire Police Control Room that we had found a missing Penguin, “I suppose it is not everyday that they have phone calls like that.”

Plans to Help Save The African Penguin

August 24, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned of an array of measures being considered by the South African government in an attempt to stave off the rapid decline of the African Penguin. Permanent or temporary exclusion zones around African penguin breeding islands – including for fishing vessels – are among a raft of proposed conservation measures aimed at preventing the iconic species from possible extinction.

The African penguin exists only along the southern African shores, between Algoa Bay and Namibia

Other measures include looking at ways of protecting penguins at Burghers Walk, east of the Boulders penguin colony, in Simon’s Town near the South African Cape; managing penguins’ natural predators such as Cape fur seals and kelp gulls, including possible culling; improved monitoring for oil pollution that affects penguins through increased aerial patrols; stopping the international trade in wild-caught penguins; and a capture, raise and release program for penguin chicks that are unlikely to survive without intervention. They are among measures outlined in a 65-page draft African Penguin Biodiversity Management Plan gazetted yesterday by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa. There is a 30-day comment period.

The African penguin, formerly known as the jackass penguin, was SA’s most abundant seabird in the early 20th century. However, its numbers have crashed so severely that its Red List status is given as “endangered”. Ornithologists believe the population may have been as high as one million breeding pairs in the 1920s, but that dropped to 147 000 pairs in 1956/57, 75 000 pairs in 1978, 63 000 pairs in 2001 and just 25 000 pairs in 2009. The present population is only about 2.5 percent of its historical level.

The bird has been assigned its endangered status because the breeding population has decreased by 50 percent in the three most recent generations. The species is endemic to southern African, occurring only between Algoa Bay in the east and central Namibia. The greatest current threat to the African penguin is probably the lack of prey, mainly sardines and anchovies, that appear to have shifted significantly eastwards in recent years. But oiling through pollution – the Treasure oil spill in June 2000 affected 40 percent of the total population – the removal of guano from islands (that penguins burrow in to make nests) and predation by Cape fur seals, kelp gulls and also by alien invasive species are other major problems. The draft biodiversity management plan, issued under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, emerged from a major planning workshop held in Arniston in October 2010, hosted by the national Department of Environmental Affairs and CapeNature.

Other measures in the plan include: Investigating and monitoring the possible impact of fishing near penguin colonies, with an island (fishing) closure feasibility study under way and to be concluded by 2014. Promoting and enforcing the Southern SA Special Waters Area, declared under the MARPOL Convention for the prevention of pollution by ships.  Building a database of oiled feathers for oil fingerprinting analysis. Investigating and evaluating the efficacy of air restrictions over breeding colonies. Ensuring the protected-area status of all localities that have African penguin breeding colonies, and establishing an African penguin stud book for all penguins in captivity.

Penguins Take A Mud Bath

August 22, 2012

Considering the amount of time they spend outdoors in some of the roughest environments the world has to offer, penguins usually manage to remain remarkably dapper. However, this penguin decided to throw decorum aside in a dash for the sea, swimming across a lake of mud in its path and cloaking its usually impeccable black and white plumage in brown slime.

In fact, the bird was so thoroughly covered that it could have been trying to pass itself off as a chocolate penguin.

A huge colony of penguins were gathered on a place called Salisbury Plain in remote South Georgia when a huge mud lake poured across the ice and separated them from the water. Thousands of the cute creatures decided to be sensible and take the longer route around the muck so they could reach the ocean.

But a plucky handful decided they were not going to let a bit of mud get in their way. Instead, they jumped in and made a swim for it. However, they no doubt quickly regretted it.  Within seconds the King Penguins were covered from beak to webbed feet in oozing slime. When they emerged from the pool they looked like they had been dipped in chocolate as they were completely covered in the mud. Eventually they finally reached the sea and the embarrassed penguins threw themselves into the ice-cold ocean for a much-needed wash.

Escaped Penguins Not Getting Far

August 18, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that penguins in the Calgary Zoo have been able to escape from their enclosure and are contacting people outside their water tank which has raised questions from an animal rights group.  Zoo officials say some of their Gentoo penguins have leapt from their watery habitat and shared floor space with onlookers.

One video shot by a zoo-goer shows a penguin on the viewer gallery floor mixed up in peoples’ legs. It’s a situation that should be viewed with caution, given the risk the penguins could be stressed by coming into contact with humans, said Rob Laidlaw of the group Zoocheck Canada. “It’s not a good idea for members of the public to make contact with the animals,” said Laidlaw. But Laidlaw, whose group has been sharply critical of the zoo in the past, wasn’t about to condemn the organization for how it operates its penguin exhibit. “They’re probably trying to determine whether or not this really works,” he said. “There’s concerns when people are able to access animals but not in every case…I haven’t seen their exhibit yet.” He said the Gentoo penguin’s outgoing nature might make them less vulnerable to harm from such activity. The Gentoos are among 46 penguins first exhibited at the zoo last February. The penguin exhibit was designed after one at the St. Louis Zoo and tailored to provide a more free-ranging space for the birds, said Animal Care Curator Jamie Dorgan. “Technically, the whole building is kind of their enclosure — the public pathway is part of the exhibit,” he said. Penguins do occasionally escape the core of their enclosure, bordered by a short plexiglass wall, during business hours, said Dorgan, but more commonly at nighttime. Staff are there to monitor the crowd to prevent the birds being touched, but the zoo considers the open concept a good one for both animals and humans. “It connects people a lot more with the animals and with our conservation efforts,” said Dorgan, comparing the environment to the zoo’s rainforest aviary when birds fly free. The penguins, he adds, were born in and transferred from other zoos and have only known the presence of humans. “We don’t see any signs of stress,” he said. But he said if any changes to the present set-up are required in the future, they’ll be made. Zoo officials say exhibits that include four species of penguins have been hugely popular and will likely be seen by 1.2 million people this year.

A Couple of Gentoo Penguins at The Calgary Zoo

Kids Find Lost Penguin On Beach

August 16, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that after a group of kids in South America came upon a stray penguin waddling on a Brazilian beach neither they nor their parents knew what to do, so they did the next logical thing, they posted their find on-line with the query, “Found a penguin!! Need Help!”  Not your everyday internet post, but one that prompted thousands of comments from people trying to help these folks figure out what exactly to do with their little penguin, that is until the authorities arrived.

On Tuesday,  kids found a penguin washed ashore in Bahia, Brazil and after an overnight stay in a wash basin by Wednesday a biologist with ICMBio arrived to pick up the newly named Gunter.  Gunter is a Magellanic penguin, and they can sometimes be found as far north as Rio de Janeiro, but rarely if ever as far north as Bahia which is about 500 miles north of Rio.

The post that was sent on-line on  Thuesday stated that Gunter didn’t seem to be feeling too well, and lots of advice was offered on how to help stabilize it until biologists or wildlife agencies came to fetch the penguin.   The biologist said that Gunter actually fared the mishap pretty well, although he has a lot of rehabilitation ahead. She said that “it fills my heart with joy being able to do this, because for each 1 we help, 20 more died on the beaches.” The New York Times, in 2008, featured the work of biologist P. Dee Boersma, who stated that climate change is affecting this breed.  Boersma said that the penguins have to swim about 40 miles farther from their nests while hunting than they did 10 years ago. Although Gunter seems to have eclipsed that mark by ten fold.

The biologist said Gunter is in great shape, with nothing broken and he looks well. She was happy to see him fighting her when she picked him up. Gunter will be paired with a companion in rehabilitation. First he will receive emergency care so he can get back on his feet and feel better, at ICMBio in Prado. Then he will be moved to a center in Eunapolis, Brazil with more penguins and better care. Eventually Gunter, and other rehabilitated penguins will be released into the ocean from Rio Grande do Sul, the main center in Brazil. And then hopefully he will swim home to Chile. So remember, if you ever find a penguin, soliciting advice is exactly what the internet is for; and don’t forget to post cute photos.


Bald Penguin

August 15, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that Ralph the Bald Penguin who is really a sensitive-skinned penguin is now on the hunt for some new clothes to protect him from the elements, now that his current attire is wearing thin.

Ralph, a 13-year-old Humboldt penguin who lives at the Marwell Zoo in the UK, has a mysterious condition that causes him to lose his feathers at a much speedier pace than his fellow penguins, who shed theirs gradually.  To combat his enclosure’s icy climate, Ralph has worn a wetsuit for the last few years, which shields him from sunburn and cold weather. “Penguins moult every year, which usually takes between four to six weeks to complete,” the zoo has explained in the past. “However, Ralph loses all his feathers in the space of a few days, so new ones do not grow through in time, exposing his pale pink skin to the sun. The wetsuit protects Ralph’s sensitive skin until his new feathers have grown through, which his keepers think will take around a month.”

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Penguin Needs To Eat

August 10, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that a Little Blue penguin stranded in New Zealand needs some fish to make it back into the wild and bird rescuers want Aucklanders to throw out their lines and do their part. The unnamed penguin has been staying at the New Zealand  Bird Rescue Charitable Trust in Green Bay, where they have run out of fish to fatten up the seabird so he can return to the sea. It’s the sole survivor from 20 penguins which were brought into the center injured and malnourished last year.

The penguin has been at the trust for five months, after being found on Muriwai Beach with an injury from a boat propeller. Volunteer Stacey Teague said the penguin was lovable despite being a bit snappy. ”He’s a bit of a character. He’s supposed to be in hibernation so he’s a bit grumpy.” Trust manager Lyn MacDonald said she’s been able to keep the spirited penguin alive but they do not have enough sprats to get it fat and moulting. ”We’ve had to resort to fillets but it needs to eat whole fish with the bones and everything. ”They need to get really fat, it generally happens in April and they hide in little burrows for six weeks just living off their body fat while they grow nice new feathers.” Until the penguin grows waterproof feathers it can’t go anywhere. MacDonald said both the Green Bay trust and Tamaki Bird Rescue are struggling to get enough fish to feed the seabirds they look after. ”It’s been very hard to get the fish and we’re running out. We’ve had offers of money by a few people but we can’t buy the fish we need. We can’t feed seabirds any substitutes – they need fish.” Tamaki Bird Rescue volunteer Corina Hooper only has a week or two worth of fish left to feed the pied shag colony she cares for. The seabirds can’t be fed bait because of what it’s treated with. MacDonald said rescue centers rely on recreational fishers to keep their injured birds fed. ”We had great fishermen but they’ve damaged their backs and can’t get out there. They would get us small catches but it was regular and kept us going.” A few unusual visitors to the center didn’t help.”About two weeks ago we had two albatrosses and an Antarctic fulmar and an Antarctic petral come in and they’re big birds which eat a lot of fish. ”We had some prions and other seabirds too which really wiped us.” MacDonald is encouraging Aucklanders to grab their bait catchers and fishing lines and help feed the birds. “Even if you’re out and you get a few more sprats than you need to just put a few in the freezer for us.” If you’re in the neighborhood bring fish donations to NZ Bird Rescue Charitable Trust at 74 Avonleigh Rd, Green Bay or call 8169219.

Pepe The Penguin

August 10, 2012

”Pepe” the penguin weighs just 6 pounds and stands less than 2 feet tall and yet he has been promoted to ambassador at Brookfield Zoo. The Penguin Post has learned that this unique story is taking place in Brookfield’s Living Coast – Rocky Shores habitat. It features Pepe, a five-month-old Humboldt penguin who is learning to roam freely with the zoo visitors, especially the kids.

Pepe and friends.

There are no bars and no glass between Pepe and new pals. “We’re just starting his training,” said Tim Snyder, curator of birds and reptiles. “He will be visiting with the guests and special events at the zoo, giving him training and getting him used to the people.” The whole idea is for Ambassador Pepe to teach conservation about his critically endangered species from the coast of Peru. What better way to teach than to get up close and personal to get Pepe to be one of us? “He actually thinks he’s one of the people,” said Snyder. “He’ll walk through there, visit with people. And he gets time to visit his penguin pals but he likes to be with people.” Pepe hatched five months ago, weighing in at about 2 ounces. Officials decided to raise him by hand and that’s why he’s so used to people … and why he likes the kids and the kids like him. Pepe only roams free once or twice a week, when the crowds are small and Pepe is in a fun-loving mood.

A Place Where Penguins Can Fly

August 10, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that in Japan at the Sunshine Aquarium—located atop an entertainment complex in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo—penguins can fly.  Well sort of, as the aquarium features a unique ring-shaped see-through tank perched seven-and-a-half feet over guests that  lets them watch the facility’s seal population swim laps.

But, this summer the aquarium added penguins to the exhibit, and every evening the usually waddling, flightless birds are given exclusive access to the Aqua Ring which gives them a small taste of what it might be like to fly for the penguins and visitors alike.  During their nightly excursion in the circular tank the seals are kept at bay given they’re one of the penguin’s natural predators. And because having an up-close view of what might happen should a penguin and seal meet might not be particularly enjoyable for the guests or the penguins for that matter.

Penguin Find Unlikely Roommates. Sharks.

August 4, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that a group of African penguins that live on an indoor beach in California have “welcomed” some toothy new neighbors this week: six striped pyjama sharks.

On Tuesday, aquarium biologists at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco introduced the nocturnal sharks (four females and two males) to their neighbors in nature, as both species live in the wild off the South African coast.   The 2-year-old pyjama sharks, which the biologists say are docile and mild-mannered, are expected to spend much of their time in the exhibit’s man-made underwater caves; since the two species rub shoulders in the wild, they should pose no threat to each other.

“During yesterday’s event, the sharks were let into the tank two at a time, which piqued the interest of the penguins,” biologists at the California Academy told the Post, in an email. “The penguins reacted with curiosity, some diving into the water to get a closer look at and feel for their new neighbors. Overall, the penguins reacted quite positively.” As for the sharks, they swam up to the tank’s glass as if posing for photos, before retreating to their cave homes, the biologists added. The African penguin exhibit is modeled after Boulders Beach in South Africa, where the penguins and sharks are found in the wild. The sharks were born at an aquarium in Lisbon, Portugal, in July 2010 before being transported to the Steinhart Aquarium at the Academy a few months ago. So that biologists can monitor the sharks’ feeding, they are using tactics to attract the typically nighttime bottom feeders to the surface for meal times. When hatched, these sharks measure about 5.5 to 5.9 inches in length, growing to about 39 inches as adults. The Academy’s newcomers were about 16 inches long when they arrived at the aquarium. Their aquarium mates, African penguins grow to about 23 to 25 inches tall and can weight 5 to 9 pounds.