Archive for April, 2014

Emperor Penguin Life Cycle

April 30, 2014

Penguin Place loves this wonderful map of the Emperor Penguin Life Cycle by the national Science Foundation.  Start in the upper left and waddle along with the Emperor life cycle for the rest of the year.


Penguins To Waddle On Cinco de Mayo

April 30, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that there will be a parade of Humboldt Penguins this coming Saturday as the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas celebrates World Penguin Day and Cinco de Mayo. Special activities and chats with zookeepers of the penguins will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Cessna Penguin Cove. Zookeeper chats will take place at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.  So, if you’re in the neighborhood, waddle on over.

Sedgwick County Zoo penguin keeper Steve Larson feeds the Humboldt penguins on display at the zoo. Read more here:

Sedgwick Zoo penguin keeper Steve Larson feeds the Humboldt penguins on display at the zoo.

Read more here:

Best 5 Minute All About Penguins Video Ever

April 29, 2014

Check out our good friend Dyan deNapoli (The Penguin Lady) video about penguins. It’s incredible.

Solar Eclipse For Penguins Only

April 29, 2014

Attention all Emperor penguins: The Penguin Post has learned that an annular solar eclipse will be turning the sun into a glowing ring of fire, the full extent of which will only be visible from a remote spot of coastal Antarctica.  For those not familiar a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting its shadow on our planet’s surface. For tonight’s eclipse, the first solar eclipse of the year, the moon will be slightly closer to the Earth than normal, making its shadow a bit smaller and thus unable to completely cover the face of the sun. Such so-called annular solar eclipses only block out the central portion of the sun, leaving a beautiful ring of light around it.penguineclipse1-660x665

But, for this eclipse the moment of annularity will only be visible from a tiny slice of Antarctica, which is the home to a few Emperor Penguin colonies.  Even the scientists living at the South Pole will miss the event because the sun is currently below the horizon for them during the long dark Antarctic winter. But hundreds of miles north from there near the coast, the sun will manage to just peek over the horizon and turn into a glowing ring during the eclipse.  The sight of which will surely delight and amaze our flightless friends, and since the only beings to be around to see it will be Emperor penguins,  scientists have dubbed this the “Penguin Eclipse.”


Protecting New Zealand’s Yellow Eyed Penguins

April 29, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that intensive management of yellow-eyed penguins on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula in New Zealand appears to be paying off.

The very small population of the endangered penguins living on the south-eastern shores of the Banks Peninsula has grown, thanks to considerable predator control and monitoring of the local population by the Wildside Project.  The Project reported that six yellow-eyed penguin chicks were successfully raised this breeding season, an improvement on five the previous season. This is a small but significant increase for a population of less than 20 adults with seven nests this year, and several juvenile birds. “All of the staff and volunteers involved are incredibly dedicated and it is so rewarding to see the peninsula penguins doing so well,” said Wildside Coordinator Marie Haley. “With ongoing predator control we hope the birds will have a safe winter and have another successful breeding season next year.”

Yellow-eyed penguin populations are incredibly sensitive to predators such as cats, rats, possums and mustelids (ferrets, stoats and weasels). Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust supply and monitor over 700 traps on the 13,500 hectare Wildside Project catchment. In addition to the intensive predator control, Wildside Project staff and volunteers monitor the penguins throughout the season. All yellow-eyed penguins on the peninsula are micro-chipped as part of ongoing research. This provides information on where the bird was born and if they survived their time at sea.Yellow-Eyed-Penguins.-Ima-001

If chicks show signs of being underweight or illness they are taken into veterinary care. This season Hornby Vets treated three of the chicks for injuries and dehydration. Voluntary nurses cared for the penguins until they were a safe weight to be released. The successful breeding season on Banks Peninsula was a relief for the Wildside Project team after yellow-eyed penguin colonies on the Otago Peninsula were hit by a “starvation event” that resulted in only 70 chicks surviving, compared with 200 the previous year.

The Wildside Project is a collaboration between the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust, landowners, Christchurch City Council, Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury and Josef Langer Trust. All are actively involved in trapping predators to protect the breeding grounds of yellow-eyed penguin and white-flippered little blue penguins, as well as improving the general ecology of the wild south-eastern bays of Banks Peninsula.


Real Live Pingu Turns 23

April 29, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned today that Pingu the Dudley Zoological Gardens’ in the UK oldest rare penguin has turned 23 today, and he celebrated by getting the first pick of the fish.

Pingu is a Humboldt penguin, which are classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN red data list. They originate along the South American coastline in areas reached by the Humboldt current. The penguins are named after German scientist, Alexander Von Humboldt, who explored the region in the late 1700s.

His keeper and best bud, Kriss Pearson said:

Pingu is a very special penguin to us as he was one of just five hand-reareds who started our colony back in 1991. It’s because of him that we now have 67 parent-reared penguins in the bay, which is one of the largest colonies of Humboldt penguins in the UK.



Penguins Back In Isle Of Man via Texas!

April 29, 2014

The penguins are back! Two of them are now relaxing in deck chairs on the gate posts of Barbara and David Cole’s house in Victoria Road, Castletown, in The Isle Of Man, UK.


As reported in the Penguin Post last November, one of the landmark birds was vandalized and wrenched off its post. Broken bits were found nearby, but it was very badly damaged. In stepped Dave Mousley, a Port Erin resident, whose drive to work at Veros Digital in Douglas, takes him by the penguins every day.  After he found out about the vandalism, he vowed to reinstate the penguin.

David’s background in model making, film and TV special effects, means he has the skills and contacts to help with a replacement. But as the US company that originally manufactured the penguin had gone into liquidation tracking one down was hard. Thanks to the internet, he managed to find a matching penguin – in Texas. He said: ‘I have spent a lot of time on collectors’ blogs and auctions seeing if I could locate one as once we knew a repair was not viable due to the missing piece, the only options were to recast from the intact one or find a replacement.

‘We couldn’t access the moulds so we had been arranging to create a new latex mould and cast one, which is in itself quite tricky for such a large piece. Just as I was ordering the materials to do this, I got a note on a blog in Santa Cruz from a guy who had this one and so there he is!’

The penguin made the long journey from Texas to Castletown, arriving two weeks ago. Dave said: ‘It’s been a pleasure to help … and I am pleased I was able to resolve this in time for spring and visitors returning to the island.’ A delighted Barbara said: ‘I don’t think anyone envisioned just what a task it would be … most people would have given up months ago, it’s so refreshing to find someone who sticks to their word.

Penguin Sweaters: To Knit or Not To Knit?

April 28, 2014

With World Penguin Day in the rear view mirror, conservation organizations are working 24 / 7 to raise awareness of the threats facing the world’s 17 species of penguin. We’re doing our part at Penguin Place by helping you understand the cutest penguin activism controversy ever, which has consumed — one might even say snuggled — the Internet more than a few times in recent years.  Whether or not it is a good idea to knit a sweater for a penguin in distress.

1. Wait, what? Why do penguins need sweaters? I thought they were threatened by the earth getting too hot!

Penguins face a lot of threats. Global warming is definitely one — according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, 12 of the 17 species of penguins are threatened by climate change. But some penguin species are also threatened by pollution, particularly oil spills. When penguins come into contact with oil in the wake of a spill, conservationists put them in sweaters so they don’t try to eat the oil off their feathers before they can be washed off. After they’re washed, the sweaters help keep the penguins warm, and waterproof, until their feathers and natural oils can recover.


2. What type of penguins are we talking about here?

The most famous “sweaters for penguins” campaigns have been for the species of penguins called Little Blue penguins, who live in Australia and New Zealand, and the endangered African penguins who live along the coasts of South Africa.  Here’s what a Little Blue penguin looks like when not covered in oil:


Here’s what they look like when they are:


3. Real talk: does putting penguins in sweaters actually work?

The Penguin Foundation, which exists solely to protect Australia’s little penguin population, certainly thinks it does. They work with the  Tasmanian Conservation Trust on the “Knits for Nature” program, which has actually existed for over a decade. The first public sweaters-for-penguins campaign, after an oil spill in Tasmania in 2002, produced 15,000 sweaters. Some were used immediately, and the rest were put in emergency kits around Tasmania.


4. Isn’t it uncomfortable for the penguin?

Some bird researchers think it is. The organization International Bird Rescue points out that penguins overheat easily, so putting an oil-smothered penguin in a layer of thick wool might not be the best idea. Additionally, traumatized wild penguins might not like the added stress of a human being putting something over their heads and onto their bodies. And if the sweater prevents some of the oil from evaporating off the penguin, it could exacerbate the damage of the spill.

5. Do conservationists still use penguin sweaters?

Yes, but they already have plenty. Between the original stockpile of sweaters, a 2011 campaign (run by a knitting site) that went viral, and the sweaters charities get from random people who hear about penguins needing sweaters, the Knits for Nature campaign has plenty in reserve. You’re welcome to knit a sweater for a penguin if you really want — the pattern is available here.  But if it’s made of the wrong kind of wool, is the wrong size, or is just one sweater too many, the Penguin Foundation will put it on a stuffed penguin to sell as a way to raise awareness about little penguin conservation. That’s what happens to most of the sweaters they receive.


Generally, charities tend to prefer that you donate money rather than goods. The original penguin campaign was an exception, because of the urgent need (and because they couldn’t order them from a factory). But this is a good lesson that the donation you want to make might not be the donation the charity needs.

6. How threatened are little penguins, anyway?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which runs the official Red List of Threatened Species, has the threat level for Little penguins set to its lowest level: Least Concern. This makes them much less threatened than a lot of other penguin species: 15 of 17 species of penguins are at a higher threat level, and 5 of them are officially “endangered,” according to the IUCN.

7. What kind of penguins should I be worried about?

The IUCN lists the African, erect-crested, Galapagos, Northern Rockhopper, and Yellow-eyed penguins as “endangered.” They range in population size from 265,000 Northern Rockhopper breeding pairs to only 1,700 breeding pairs of yellow-eyed penguins.


8. Do those penguins need sweaters?

It’s debatable, but pollution isn’t the biggest threat facing these species. Most of them are immediately threatened by humans encroaching on and degrading their habitats, and need stronger protections for their foraging and breeding grounds.

Penguin Fun Facts

April 26, 2014

In honor of World Penguin Day today—and just because they’re just so darn cute—we decided to round up some fun facts that you may not know about everyone’s favorite flightless bird.  Penguins!

1. All 17 species of penguins are naturally found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.



2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.



3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.



4. Penguins’ striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, their black backs blend into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, their white bellies are hidden against the bright surface.



5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.



6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.



7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.



8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.



9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.



10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.



11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.



12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.



13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.



14. If a female Emperor Penguin’s baby dies, she will often “kidnap” an unrelated chick—but rather than raise it as her own, she soon abandons the stolen chick.



15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.



16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard for Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the earth in 1520 when the animals were caught near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them “geese.”)



17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama’s 1497 voyage around Cape Horn makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.



18. Penguins evolved to stay in the Southern Hemisphere because there are no land predators, like wolves or polar bears, to take make quick work of the plump flightless prey.



19. Because they aren’t used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.



20. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.



21. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to Great Auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled Auks, and called them penguins.



World Penguin Day Top 5 Penguin Countdown

April 25, 2014

Enough of real penguin news. For World Penguin Day the Penguin Post has collected together our favorite animated penguins that we grew up with and are undoubtedly the reasons why many of us fell in love with penguins in the first place.  So here’s our top 5 coolest cartoon penguin countdown and Happy World Penguin Day!  Feel free to disagree.

#5 Mumbles from Happy Feet

The Fred Astaire of the penguin world tap-danced onto the silver screen in the BAFTA award-winning Happy Feet in 2006. With his unusual twinkling blue eyes, this tiny Emperor Penguin was the first of his kind to be missing a heartsong – which the species use to attract their mate. But nothing was going to get in the way of Mumble meeting his true love Gloria as he put on those dancing flippers. From the moment he hatched, Mumble was a flipping good dancer and proved that true love knows no boundaries as later he went on to have a son, Erik, with his childhood sweetheart. One of Mumble’s most memorable dancing moments was when he and Gloria brought together the colony of penguins in a slick dance routine to the 1979 Earth, Wind and Fire disco hit Boogie Wonderland.

#4 Wheezy from Toy Story

The most musical of the top five, Wheezy stole the hearts of audiences worldwide in 1999 when he appeared in Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 2.

With a sob-story fit for the best of the nation’s talent shows, Wheezy was found on the shelf by Woody with a broken squeaker after being left there by protagonist Andy’s mum. Left alone and forgotten without a voice to be heard, Wheezy is the penguin that brought hope to the unsung talent around the globe as he took to the stage to sing Randy Newman tune You’ve Got a Friend in Me,following the replacement of his squeaker by Mr Shark. Unfortunately, that was the last time we would see Wheezy and his red dickey bow as he was later sold in a yard sale which Woody mentions in the 2010 threequel.  His squeak however continues to touch the hearts of rubber penguin fans far and wide.

#3 Chilly Willy

Who doesn’t have a soft spot for cartoon veteran Chilly Willy.  This little penguin first appeared alongside Woody the Woodpecker in 1953. Created by animation pioneer Walter Lantz, Chilly Willy lived in Alaska where he spent much of his time trying to keep warm while often coming face-to-face with his rival Smedley the dog. The pair, however, were often known to reconcile at the end of episodes leaving viewers with a feeling to warm even the chilliest of Willy’s cockles. He went on to become the second most popular character at Universal Studios after his rival Woody and his career spanned almost two decades, starring in 50 animations and a series of comics. Willy and his woolly hat remain just as popular today as 61 years ago as fans continue to dedicate websites to the pancake-loving penguin while he rakes in the YouTube views.

#2 Feather’s McGraw (The Wrong Trousers)

The villainous Feathers McGraw appeared in Nick Park’s 1993  groundbreaking claymation The Wrong Trousers which went on to win an Academy award in the animated short film category. The pesky penguin first arrived at 62 West Wallaby Street on Gromit’s birthday and embarked on a quest to separate Wallace and his pet pooch while plotting an ingenious jewel heist at the local museum . Of course, McGraw was never going to be a match for Wallace’s faithful companion Gromit, as his plan to use the eccentric inventor’s robotic trousers in the diamond robbery is eventually foiled. Despite being arrested and sent to ‘prison’ at the local zoo, McGraw will always be remembered for his trademark rubber-glove-on-the-head ensemble “disguise”.

#1 Pingu

Created by German animator Otmar Gutmann, this BAFTA award-winning plasticine penguin was originally made for Swiss TV and first came to British shores in 1986. Almost 30 years later, Pingu and his Antarctic family continue to fill our screens with the dramas of toddler life as well as his adventures with his best pal, Robby the seal. Some of Pingu’s best work came in the episode New Arrival when Pingu welcomed his chick sister Pinga into the world, bringing a tear to eyes across the world. His comic timing was perhaps best showcased in the classic series one episode Little Accidents, which finds Pingu stranded in a bar, desperate for the bathroom before he returns home only to find he can’t reach the toilet. Due to the “toilet humor,” this particular episode was banned everywhere except from in the UK.  Pingu to this day is universally beloved by kids and adults alike who “get him” on very different levels.  Pingu’s monolingual performances in ‘penguinese’ meant that his career continues to thrive around the world as no one really knows what he’s saying, and yet everyone knows what he’s saying all at the same time, if you catch my snow drift. His hilarious universality is why Pingu is our hands down #1/

Honorable mention to Tennesse Tuxedo, the Ink and Paint Club from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Penguins Of Madagascar, The Penguin From Batman and the Dancing Penguins with Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins.