Archive for February, 2013

Penguin In A Strange Land

February 28, 2013

The Penguin Post has learned about the story of an adventurous Rockhopper penguin who got lost on the way to the Antarctic and ended up in sunny Alexandra, New Zealand. True story -there really was a penguin in Central Otago, about as far from the coast as it’s possible to get in this country. Central Vets Ltd senior small animal veterinarian, Sue Robb, operated on the 6-month-old injured rockhopper at the Alexandra clinic last week and its arrival caused quite a stir.

”The staff all came and had a look at it – it’s the closest most of them have ever been to a penguin,” Ms Robb said. It was found on a North Otago beach about a month ago with an injured foot, Katiki Point Charitable Trust honorary ranger Rosalie Goldsworthy said. She runs a penguin hospital at the point, near the Moeraki lighthouse, and the rockhopper ended up in her care. ”It was injured at sea. Some creature tried to kill it and got it by the foot – there were big tooth-marks around its ankle.”

It was very unusual to find rockhoppers on our shores and they were rarer than other crested penguins, Mrs Goldsworthy said. The nearest breeding site was Macquarie Island, halfway between New Zealand and the Antarctic. She and Ms Robb have been friends for about 15 years and have worked together on wildlife before, so she asked for the vet’s advice. ”Here I usually deal with companion animals – cats and dogs – but in the past I’ve operated on penguins and other wildlife, and on all kinds of birds from a pukeko through to a sulphur-crested cockatoo,” Ms Robb said.

The operation to remove the penguin’s foot took about 20 minutes and no special equipment was needed, although ”we did turn up the air-conditioning so it wasn’t too warm”. She saw treating wildlife as her ”social responsibility” and said there was no charge for the operation or care of the bird. ” I love the idea of being able to treat a rare bird like this and have it return to the wild,” Ms Robb said. The penguin is recuperating well back at the penguin hospital and was standing up on its stump, and balancing well, shortly after the operation, Mrs Goldsworthy said.

”It’s very special and has a lovely nature – not aggressive, but it is assertive. If it doesn’t like something, it’ll let you know.” ”Sue says it will take about a month to heal and then it’ll be heading south for its next adventure. I have every faith it will get back to Antarctica.” Penguins use their wings for propulsion through the water and their feet as rudders and it was already adapting to with changes to its stance. ”You can tell when they’re getting better – they get grumpy and start to jump against the pen when they’re ready to leave,” she said. The trust is a charity and relies on donations to fund its work. There are 13 penguins of four different species in the hospital.

Alexandra veterinarian Sue Robb with the injured rockhopper penguin after operating on it last week. The bird is recovering well and should be released to head back to the Antarctic next month.

Alexandra veterinarian Sue Robb with the injured rockhopper penguin after operating on it last week. The bird is recovering well and should be released to head back to the Antarctic next month.

Walk Like A Penguin

February 25, 2013

The Penguin Post has noticed that recently various municipalities around the country have offered advice to their citizens to “walk like a penguin” for safety’s sake in this winter’s ice and snow.  Be it to and from parking lots, on an icy street, between buildings, or anywhere else slick and outdoors to avoid slipping and falling.  This week in the mid-west, after being belted with two near record snowstorms the Emergency Services physicians at Providence Medical Center and Saint John Hospital in Kansas City have offer the following waddling safety tips to keep in mind:  Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles; assume all wet, dark areas on pavements are slick.  Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous (unless you are actually a penguin). Look ahead when you walk. During bad weather, avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels. Instead, wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice.  Point your feet out slightly like a penguin! Spreading your toes (webbed or otherwise) out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity. Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity over your feet (like the penguins pictured below).  Extend your arms (flippers) out to your sides to maintain balance.  Keep your hands out of your pockets! Hands in pockets while walking decreases your center of gravity and balance (besides penguins don’t have pockets).  Take short steps or shuffle for stability (very penguin-like).  If you fall; try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine.  Try and keep both feet on the ground as you exit and enter your parked vehicle, and if possible keep waddling.

For safety's sake walk like a penguin

For safety’s sake walk like a penguin

World’s Oldest Penguin

February 24, 2013

The Penguin Post has learned that the skull of a 65-million-year-old penguin which spent the last decade wrapped in of all places a newspaper in a Christchurch, New Zealand garage could unlock the secrets of the bird’s evolution. Canterbury Museum scientists are analyzing the new fossil of Waimanu manneringi, named after the Christchurch amateur fossil hunter who was the first to find bones from the world’s oldest penguin. Al Mannering, who first found fossils of the bird at the Waipara River in 1997, made the new find in 2003 but did not realize its significance until preparing it late last year. ”I wrapped it in newspaper and left it in my garage for 10 years, then last year I thought, ‘I’d better have a go at that’. ”Once I realized what it was, I emailed [the museum] straight away.” Canterbury Museum senior curator Paul Scofield said the fossil, from the Paleocene era, was in ”exceptional” condition. ”On a worldwide basis, it would be as good as fossils of this age get.” Scofield said the penguin skull was one of the most important parts of the body for paleontologists, providing valuable hints about the bird’s history and its connection to other penguins. Museum scientists would compare the skull with those of thousands of other penguins to develop a ”family tree” and determine how the bird related to both modern penguins and the dinosaurs. The researchers would also do a CT scan of the skull at Christchurch Hospital, allowing them to reconstruct its brain and outline its abilities and lifestyle. ”As birds become specialists in flight or diving, it changes the way their brain works: now we can start to make guesses at how these animals actually lived,” Scofield said. The museum would work with American scientists from the University of Texas who had found similar fossils in South America, which had recently separated from New Zealand at the age the fossils dated back to. ”It’s a really sexy field in paleontology, because penguins were one of the earliest bird groups to evolve.” Scofield said the Paleocene era was ”absolutely crucial” to scientific understanding of modern birds and mammals, due to dramatic change which occurred during the period. ”As soon as we became free of dinosaurs, evolution went crazy,” he said.

Amateur fossil hunter Al Mannering, who discovered the skull of the world's oldest penguin, left, which is shown compared with a modern penguin.

Amateur fossil hunter Al Mannering, who discovered the skull of the world’s oldest penguin, left, which is shown compared with a modern penguin.

Pierre Penguin Celebrates His 30th Birthday

February 24, 2013

The Penguin Post has learned that Pierre, the world famous wetsuit-wearing penguin at the California Academy of Sciences, recently celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday.  For his special day Pierre received special fishy treats and was serenaded by members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.  Pierre’s story started in 2007, when he wasn’t molting (replacing his feathers) properly.  To help Pierre a custom penguin wetsuit was made for him to keep warm, something that had never been done before. The suit eventually worked, and Pierre was able to re-grow his feathers and rejoin the colony and has been happily waddling ever since.

SeaWorld To Open New Penguin Exhibit in May

February 24, 2013

SeaWorld Orlando’s chilling new attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, will open May 24, the park announced Tuesday. Empire of the Penguin, which SeaWorld says will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world, will be both a ride and an encounter with penguins in their habitat, where the temperature must be kept in the low 30s.

Penguin Chicks In Snowy New England

February 24, 2013

Two adorable African penguin chicks have hatched at Sea Research Foundation’s Mystic Aquarium. Hatched Feb. 1 and Feb. 10, the chicks weigh 696 grams and 281 grams, respectively. The chicks will be named when they are fully fledged and their gender will be determined by a DNA test at 6 months old.The chicks can be seen on the Mystic Aquarium website’s live African penguin webcam. The live webcam provides the unique opportunity to watch the chicks develop into full fledgling penguins. Viewers can meet the trainers, get up-close views of the chicks, hear firsthand about their progress, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Pavilion. Penguin fans can also get weekly video updates and submit questions to penguin trainers via Mystic Aquarium’s Facebook page.  In Mystic Aquarium’s “Weekly Bird Bit” videos, penguin trainers share insights on the chicks’ development and milestones, as well as answer two or three of viewers’ most interesting or commonly-asked questions. During the chicks’ first 40 days, the little ones are unable to maintain th

African Penguin Chick at Mystic Aquarium

African Penguin Chick at Mystic Aquarium

eir body heat, so they seek warmth under their parents. Viewers will see their heads and beaks emerge when they are hungry and when their parents feed them. Later, the chicks will slowly venture on their own into other areas of their room. Once they are weaned, around day 50, people can observe the aquarium’s trainers teaching the chicks to feed from them. At 75 to 100 days of age, the chicks will be fully fledged. Their soft down will be replaced with juvenile plumage, and they will be ready to fend for themselves and join the 26 adult African penguins on exhibit at the aquarium. Mystic Aquarium participates in the Species Survival Plan, a collaborative breeding program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The African penguin is an endangered species.