Archive for March, 2014

Penguin Gets New Beak

March 27, 2014


The Penguin Post has learned that an African Penguin at the Warsaw Zoo in Poland who damaged his lower beak will be given a new, prosthetic beak thanks to new 3-D printing technology.

His keepers don’t know exactly how, but four weeks ago one of Warsaw Zoo’s African penguins managed to break his beak, damaging the bottom part to the point that the bird could no longer eat or preen, putting his life in danger. But there was hope to be found in technology; more specifically, 3D printing.

To restore his life to normal, a team of 3D printing specialists and veterinarians are collaborating to build a new beak. First, the team made comprehensive scans of the beak of a dead penguin from 12 different angles in order to figure out the shape and dimensions of the beak. Then, 3D printing specialist Omni3D built a model of the beak that would fit the wounded bird.

The beak itself goes to print this week on by MTT Polska, using a high-tech eco-plastic, and will be fitted to the bird in a complex operation. Veterinarians will put the bird under general anaesthetic, then grind down his beak so that the prosthetic can be placed over it. MTT Polska is also making beaks in several different materials — plastic and silicone — in case the prosthetic falls off or proves unsuitable.

In the meantime, the penguin has been fed by hand, but if the operation succeeds, the little guy will soon be devouring his herring along with his fellows with no indication that anything was ever amiss — except, perhaps, a brightly colored beak as a memento.

Penguin Place Helps Penguin Chicks Down Under

March 11, 2014

Sometimes New Zealand’s native penguin species have it tough out there in the wild. This year large numbers of yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho chicks – natives of coastal Otago in New Zealand – have had a particularly challenging first few months of life. yellow-eyed-penguin

Every year in November/December yellow-eyed penguin chicks begin to hatch around the wild beaches of the Catlins, Otago Peninsula and North Otago.

There are often a few that are abandoned by their parents or aren’t well fed, and need to be removed from their nests. But this year a late breeding season and lack of fish to eat has meant a large number of chicks have gone hungry and many have died.

Fortunately, around 80 of these chicks and juveniles are now in the care of Penguin Place (not to be confused with Penguin Place here in the USA.doc-with-penguin-chicks

Penguin Place is a privately run conservation effort and tourism operation, funded through the guided tours they conduct. This project began in the mid 80’s as a family-run conservation project and nature tourism experience. They now carry out a range of conservation work including a research program, trapping predators, providing safe nest boxes, restoring a stretch of coastline to prime penguin habitat, and rehabilitating sick and injured penguins in its penguin hospital.

Throughout the breeding season, a small team of Deptartment Of Conservation rangers and volunteers monitor the penguin nesting grounds, conducting health checks of the chicks to make sure they are well fed and gaining weight.


Those that are showing signs of starvation or other ailments are removed from the nest where needed and taken to safe havens like Penguin Place till they fatten up and are ready for release.

Feeding 80 hungry beaks is a big job. It takes two keepers three hours twice a day to hand feed all of the penguin hospital’s current patients – and they’re consuming up to 80 kilos of fish per day! Plus, because they’re still growing, these young patients need fish that’s full of protein and other vitamins, preferably small whole fish with blood, guts and bones.

Thankfully some generous partners have come to the aid of Penguin Place this year. Talleys Nelson contributed an emergency supply of one ton of pilchard; and seafood company Sanford Limited has just agreed to provide an ongoing donation of up to six tons per year.

DOC doesn’t run its own facilitates for providing the specialist care that’s needed to rehabilitate sick or injured wildlife. We work in partnership with a number of specialist organizations like Penguin Place, who have permits from DOC to care for native species. These organizations play a really important role in conservation.


Chubby Penguins Go For Power Waddle

March 11, 2014

 This winter the Penguin Post has learned that for some chubby penguins in Japan it’s like March of the Penguins up close and personal. Keepers at the Asahiyama Zoo in Japan usher the birds out twice a day at 11 am and 2.30 pm during the months of December to March, to make sure the penguins don’t pile on the pounds.
The walk is designed to keep the penguins fit and healthy and fend off obesity during the winter months, when the birds tend to be less active and accumulate more fat. 1103penguins
The Penguin Walk has now become a world-renowned attraction, with tourists flocking to the zoo to witness the extraordinary event.
The walk, according to the zoo, is done at a ‘penguin’s pace,’ which means it takes about 40 minutes. The chubby penguins can only be walked during the winter months, because without the snow, the normal concrete paths of the zoo would damage their feet. 1103penguins1

Penguin Sweaters Wanted

March 7, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that The Penguin Foundation has a global call out for knitters to make pullovers for penguins in rehab.  The reason is that penguins caught in oil spills need the little sweaters to keep warm (as they lose their natural insulation) and to stop them from trying to clean the toxic oil off with their beaks. Knitter Lyn Blom is the receptionist at Phillip Island Nature Parks in Victoria and has knitted many penguin jumpers over the years. The Penguin Foundation is based at Phillip Island, which is known for having a large penguin colony. Lyn Blom says it’s not just major oil spills that cause problems for local penguins. “Fishermen might clean out a container or something while they’re at sea,” says Lyn. “It’s a continuing problem,” she says. “We get probably about 20 birds a year.” One advantage of knitting a penguin sweater is that they are small since the Australian Little Blue Penguin is the smallest of all the penguin species. “They’re very quick,” says Lyn. The Penguin Foundation also distributes the jumpers to other wildlife rescue centres where needed.


You can download more information about how to knit for penguins, including the knitting pattern and where to send the finished product. While the Penguin Foundation’s website says it currently has a ‘good supply’ of the little jumpers, the organisation also uses them in educational programs as well as selling them as a fundraising measure. In 2011 the foundation raised money for a new Phillip Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which can house up to 1500 penguins in the event of a major oil spill.