Archive for September, 2012

Our Favorite Penguin Story…Ever!

September 27, 2012

Every once in a while I have to kick himself when it comes to a penguin story this good, so now once again via the Penguin Post we’d like to take a moment to remind the world of a certain King penguin named Sir Nils Olav.  A penguin story so cool, so bizarre, so guaranteed to bring a smile to your face that it’s hard to believe that it’s real.  But, it is, and if you thought that Norwegian people are particular serious folks maybe now you’ll think again.
If you’re not familiar this is a story of a penguin called Nils Olav waddled into the history books back in 2008 when he was knighted by a visiting royal Norwegian regiment in Scotland. The king penguin became the first black-and-white pint-sized Norwegian Sir with wings after inspecting the Norwegian King’s Guard, over for Edinburgh’s annual Military Tattoo. Nils Olav already has medals for good conduct and long service. He made honorary colonel-in-chief of the elite Norwegian King’s Guard in 2005. And on August 15th, 2008 he was knighted.  Not bad for a 3-foot tall penguin. Nils Olav was made an honorary member of the King’s Guard in 1972 after being picked out as the guard’s mascot by lieutenant Nils Egelien. The king penguin was named after Egelien and Norway’s then-King Olav V.
The knighthood ceremony began Friday morning with speeches and a fanfare before Nils arrived, under escort with the King’s Guard Color Detachment. Nils then reviewed the troops lined up outside the penguin enclosure at the zoo, waddling down the row of uniformed soldiers, occasionally stopping to crane his neck and peer inquisitively at their crisp uniforms. Nils was then knighted by British Maj. Gen. Euan Loudon on behalf of Norway’s King Harald V. Loudon dropped the king’s sword on both sides of Nils’s black-and-white frame, and the penguin’s colonel-in-chief badge, tied to his flipper, was swapped for one symbolizing his knighthood. He’s a now a “Sir” and a penguin that requires a salute.

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Penguin Cap Fights Baldness

September 27, 2012

The first thought that came to Debbie Ohanian’s mind when her oncologist gave her the bad news; “I don’t want to be bald.” “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I go to the gym and I’m healthy so why was I going to get breast cancer. The odds are pretty bad right now,” Ohanian said. After a couple of mammograms, an ultrasound, an MRI and a fine-needle biopsy, Ohanian was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Luckily I had the most common one. It’s been a year and all the vocabulary I once knew I don’t even remember what cancer I had,” she said jokingly. Of course following the diagnosis came surgery and then treatment. This is the phase that bothered her the most; chemotherapy. “I think the first thing you hear after doctors tell you have breast cancer, I think ‘I don’t want to be bald.’ I basically would have foregone chemo,” she said. Ohanian showing off the cold cap.  Luckily, the tumor was still in its early stages. After hearing advice from nearly five different doctors in L.A., Ohanian decided to undergo treatment. Chemotherapy—for Ohanian, it was four rounds of Taxotere and Cytoxan, but still enough for her to completely lose her hair. She wouldn’t have it.  “If you could save your hair, and not look sick, that’s a huge plus. Not looking sick is key. I think that’s a very big thing,” Ohanian said. Fortuitously, Ohanian’s friend brought up an interesting concept to her. Ohanian said, “My friend told me, ‘you know, there’s something cold you can put on your head and you don’t lose your hair anymore.” A simple Google search of ‘chemo no hair loss’ lead Ohanian to Penguin Cold Caps. When spread out, it’s shaped like a flattened out penguins body, cold caps are scalp-cooling devices cancer patients can wear to either prevent or reduce chemotherapy-induced hair loss. Made from a “white medical grade hypo-allergenic” flexible plastic material, the Penguin Cold Caps are filled with a special formula of Crylon gel with an “insulated blue nylon cover,” according to the Penguin Cold Cap’s official website. It weighs around 3.3 pounds and requires Velcro fasteners to adjust the cap to fit all head shapes and sizes.  Making this one indispensible penguin pal.

Students Help Create Penguin Facility

September 26, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that school kids in New Zealand are helping restore blue penguin habitat as part of the development of a viewing facility at Pilots Beach, Taiaroa Head, in southern N.Z. which is due to open next month. Pupils from a variety of schools have been working hard weeding, digging holes and planting native plants at the beach as part of an Otago Peninsula Trust education program funded by Kids Restore New Zealand Environmental Trust. The work is part of the Pukekura Trust’s restoration of the area and includes a walkway from Taiaroa Head down to the beach, which, by opening night on October 16, will be lit by red LED lights at twilight to guide people down to a 100-person viewing platform. Blue Penguins Pukekura director of operations and wildlife Hoani Langsbury said information about the beach, the penguins and the area’s heritage and culture would be placed at the top and at intervals down the walkway. “It has taken two years’ planning and work to get to this stage.”

Little Blue Penguin of New Zealand

People would be guided to the platform after gathering at the albatross center, where they could buy tickets ($20 for adults, $10 for children and $50 for families) and receive instruction, including on the importance of being quiet. The platform, which would be lit by low intensity white light, also had access for the disabled. “We should no longer have visitors charging around with torches,” Mr Langsbury said. The trust had a concession from the Department of Conservation that allowed it to run the tours from twilight for a couple of hours, but the public was free to visit the area before that. The trust had nearly eradicated rabbits from the fenced beach area and had also, with the help of volunteers and school children, placed nesting boxes around the hills. An area for recreational access to the beach was also being created. The planting work had been funded by the Air New Zealand Environment Trust and there were 25,000 plants, mainly snow tussock and coprosmas, to be planted. Seventeen trailer loads of weeds had been removed.

Justin Copson (11), of Arthur Street School in Dunedin, plants tussock at Pilots Beach, as part of work to restore blue penguin habitat

Rescued Penguins Go Home

September 26, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that penguins rescued from Napier’s Inner Harbor in New Zealand after a diesel spill earlier this month have been returned to their habitat.  The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s oil spill response team rescued the penguins after they were found covered in diesel fuel following the spill incident from a moored fishing boat on 7 September.  The three penguins were transferred to Massey University’s National Oiled Wildlife facility in Palmerston North for rehabilitation. The birds were cleaned and cared for at the facility and have since been swimming 2-3 times each day as part of the process to restore waterproofing to their feathers. The length of swims has increased each day. The test for release is swimming for six hours without getting wet feathers. All three birds passed this test on Monday. The penguins were transported from Massey University’s facility this morning, before being released back into Napier’s Inner Harbor. HBRC’s Incident Controller Bryce Lawrence says the penguins went straight to their burrows and the team is pleased to see the birds going home. “It is always good to see wildlife returned to their habitat. It was unfortunate that we had three oiled penguins but, given the conditions of this spill, we were fortunate that we could respond quickly and collect the diesel, and minimize the impact on the penguin population in the Inner Harbour,” said Mr Lawrence. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Enforcement Team is still investigating the exact cause of the spill to determine whether enforcement action is appropriate.

Rare Penguin Population In New Zealand On The Rise

September 23, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that visitors to Milford Sound in southern New Zealand have been treated to increased sightings of the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin over the past fortnight. Southern Discoveries nature guide Dave Newman said the numbers of the penguins, known as tawaki, were encouraging. “There’s more penguins this year than we saw last year, which is really positive for the colony and great for our guests as there are only up to 3000 breeding pairs in existence.” The penguins have been seen by tourists aboard the Encounter Nature Cruise as it comes close to the colony in Penguin Cove, where the penguins make their homes during the breeding season from July to November, and again between January and March to moult. “We’ll expect to see the penguins here until November when their chicks are ready to head out to sea,” Mr Newman said. “There’s a real buzz when we first start seeing the penguins. They’re a very special bird as they’re so rare. We’re so lucky to be able to see them. New Zealand is visited by 13 of the world’s 18 penguin species, and of those only three breed on the mainland.

Fiordland Crested Penguins, of which this is an example, have been returning to Milford Sound in increasing numbers in recent weeks.

Flying Penguins A Hit In Brazil

September 23, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that Brazil has recently ordered $43 million worth of Norwegian Penguin anti-ship missiles for use by their navy helicopters. Four years ago Brazil bought a dozen Penguins and were sufficiently satisfied with the missile that they bought 40 more. The Penguin weighs 370 kg (814 pounds) and has a range of 55 kilometers. The Penguin has been in service since 1973, and has been constantly upgraded. The current version costs about a million dollars each. The missile has been exported to many countries, including the United States, and is carried by F-16s, various types of helicopters, and small warships.

I guess it looks a little like a penguin

Penguins Can Fly (sort of)

September 23, 2012

ONE ‘penguin’ is proving that it can fly – if only for a few seconds. Stephanie Hinksman, from Tupsley, Hereford, in the U.K. will don a penguin costume in a charity skydive for St Michael’s Hospice. Stephanie, aged 39, hopes tomorrow’s jump in Wiltshire will raise £2,000 and has already ruffled the bird’s feathers by taking a test dive in a wind tunnel earlier this summer in her costume.

Penguin Imposter Revealed

September 23, 2012

On the North Sea, about 150 miles north of London in the east coast of England,  in the town of  Cleethorpes a local man picked up his camera and snapped what appeared to be a penguin on Cleethorpes beach.  Geoff Peck of Mill Place took a picture of a bird standing in the sand in the resort. Its posture and coloring look uncannily like a penguin, which are usually found in Antarctica along with other species on the south-western coast of Africa, Chile and Argentina, Falkland Islands, Peru and Galapagos Islands, Australia and New Zealand. Penguins have never been spotted in the North Sea and the only breed living north of the equator is the Galapagos Penguin. But Geoff and his wife Linda were 100 per cent certain of what they saw – especially after seeing it shoot off through the water. They took photographs of the bird after their son, who was on the Kingsway at the time, told them a crowd of onlookers had gathered and were trying to figure out what it was. Some were also taking pictures. Linda said: “We were 100 per cent convinced it was a penguin. It waddled like a penguin, it couldn’t fly like a penguin and it took off through the water like a penguin. When it found the water’s edge it literally fell in and took off like a missile being fired from a submarine. It was fantastic to watch. “It was certainly no bird I have seen before. The only thing that threw me was when it sat down it looked like a duck, but I have never seen a duck swim like that. It was unbelievable.” But Linda and Geoff were left disappointed after a conservation programme in Devon confirmed it was nothing more than a common Guillemot – a bird often mistaken for a penguin.

My Proud Penguin Papa

September 21, 2012

They say the male Emperor Penguin plays a very important role in child rearing.  It’s been about 26 years ago to the day that my dad lent me the money to start my very own all-penguin business.  At the time he was recovering from his third heart attack.  He was a self-employed wallpaper hanger and let me tell you having a trio of heart attacks in a ten year period is not exactly ideal for anyone,  and all the more if you’re working for yourself at a physical job.   So when I told him I wanted to open an all-penguin themed pushcart at South St. Seaport he was a little more than taken aback, especially when I mentioned how much it would cost and then without taking a breath proceeded to ask him if he could lend me the four thousand dollars I estimated it would take to start my crazy penguin enterprise. It was no surprise that there were a more than a few skeptics, including my college night school professor whose class How To Start and Maintain Your Own Small Business I enrolled in a few months before I opened my penguin cart.  Most thought I was crazy, foolhardy or worse.  My girlfriend threatened to break up with me if I quit my  “real job” to open a “silly” all Penguin Store. “This cannot be your f*&king career choice, can it?!” She shouted at me one night.  My grandparents would tell their friends that I was going to sell real penguins from a moving pushcart like the pots and pans / dry goods cart that once roamed the streets of their Bronx neighborhood.  But, after the initial shock wore off it took little convincing.  As my dad, who with no strings attached, lent me the money he could so ill afford to part with.  At the time he could barely handle the rigors of his job and had virtually no income ( self-employment meant no unemployment benefits), my mom worked part-time, and I also had two younger sisters at home.  We drove a beat up gas guzzler, and lived in a cramped 2 bedroom, 800 square foot walk-up in Queens.  But, he believed in his son, and the rest as they say is penguin history.

This past Monday, my father, Bernie Bennett, passed away at the age of 79.  Yes, I paid him back, and no, he never grew tired of explaining to people (with a huge smile on his face) what his son did for a living.  Thanks dad. For everything.

Me and my dad at Citi Field last Summer.

Endangered African Penguins Oiled Again

September 9, 2012

The Penguin Post is distressed to learn that endangered African penguins from the Robben Island colony in South Africa are still being oiled on a daily basis. The bird conservation body Sanccob’s rehabilitation center in Table View has taken on oiled penguins every day this week after a storm last weekend caused part of the Seli 1 wreck to split apart and spill oil into Table Bay. This comes as the city’s clean-up efforts at Dolphin and Rietvlei beaches are drawing to an end. On Wednesday, a South African Department of Environmental Affairs aircraft surveyed the area of the ocean where the penguins hunt, but it could not identify any oil slicks that may be contributing to the pollution of the birds. “We have only identified a slick in the vicinity of the wreck itself. Currently there is a ‘light sheen’ leaking from the wreck – thin oil which dissipates easily – this tells us that the spill is nearing its end… but with this particular wreck you can’t ever be too sure,” said Feroza Albertus-Stanley, environmental director for the department. On Thursday the rehabilitation center took on another 50 penguins, bringing the number of penguins saved to 113. This figure includes 11 chicks which were removed from their nests to avoid them starving to death. Conservationists believed that their parents had been oiled and were unable to care for them. The cost for the rehabilitation was mounting, said Venessa Strauss, Sanccob’s CEO. “It costs R500 to rehabilitate an oiled penguin and R1 500 (about $200) to rehabilitate a chick,” she said. She appealed to people to donate or adopt a penguin. Strauss suspects that another ship may be dumping oil illegally, because it is easy to do so without being caught when there is an existing oil spill in the area.Meanwhile, the National Department of Transport has committed to removing the Seli 1 wreck. “The department views the removal of the Seli 1 in a serious light and the matter is receiving the necessary attention. To this end, the department has approached national Treasury for financial assistance and the matter is being considered,” said Sam Monareng, a spokesman for the department. “The navy will assist in the carrying out of a thorough scan of the wreck and together with the salvage company, a detailed plan will be developed,” Monareng said.

An oiled African Penguin being washed.