Archive for June, 2014

All Black Penguin!

June 30, 2014

The Penguin Post asks how big is a zillion? It’s “an extremely large, indeterminate number,” according to Dictionary.com. And how rare is an all-black penguin, rather than the black-and-white tuxedo-like colorings on most of the adorable, big, wabbly birds? It’s a one-in-a-zillion mutation, scientists say.
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On a recent trip for National Geographic Traveler magazine to the continent that is the world’s southern tip — Antarctica — Contributing Editor Andrew Evans spotted one and got pictures and video of it. He was doing a story on getting there from Washington, D.C. mostly by bus. Evans saw the penguin on the island of South Georgia, just off Antarctica, during the trip’s last leg – a boat ride from Venezuela.  Group members disembarked on South Georgia when they saw the penguin. The birds have no natural fear of humans, so Evans sat on the ground in front of the penguin when he captured it on camera. Other naturalists on the ship said the bird had been spotted on other trips, which means it’s been around awhile. From what Evans could see, the black penguin assimilated well with the others, and even appeared to have a black-and-white mate. There are some partially-black penguins, about one in every quarter million, scientists say. But this is the only one known to exist that is all black.

Patriotic Penguin Cupcakes

June 29, 2014

Here’s a little holiday weekend treat suggestion from the Penguin Post. These fun penguin cupcakes will make for a fun, cool desert  after your 4th of July BBQ.   Use doughnut holes to form the penguin and then dip them in melted chocolate frosting. Then they are ready to decorate with appropriate candies or red, white and blue sprinkles for that patriot penguin look.

Attach donut holes to an unfrosted cupcake of any flavor. Frosting is the mortar that holds the shapes together. Once the whole structure is finished, place in the freezer until frosting is firm.

Place chocolate frosting in a 1- to 2-cup microwavable measuring cup. Microwave for 5 to 10 seconds until it’s the consistency of lightly whipped cream.


Hold the cupcake by its bottom and dip the top in the melted frosting up to the edge of the paper liner.


Lift the cupcake and allow the excess frosting to drip off.

Quickly turn the cupcake upright. You can pop any small bubbles with a toothpick.

Get creative and use fruit chews, small candies, and dyed frosting to add finishing touches to your penguin cupcakes. Serve up for an adorable penguin treat!

Penguins In Duck Country

June 28, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that three penguin chicks at the Oregon Zoo have emerged from their nests and are now exploring their surroundings. The Humboldt penguin chicks hatched in March, and Humboldt chicks usually fledge at about 3 months old.

The chicks — named Aqua, Xolas and Olle — are almost as tall as the adult birds, but are still gray and lack the classic tuxedo penguin pattern.  But fear not, they’ll grow into that outfit in a couple of years.  Wild Humboldt penguins live along the coast of Peru and Chile. The birds are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, according to a release from the zoo, and were granted protection in 2010 under the United States Endangered Species Act.

If you’re in the neighborhood, Oregon Zoo visitors can see the young birds  and all the other penguins waddling around and swimming in the zoo’s penguinarium.

A Humboldt penguin chick explores the Oregon Zoo Penguinarium

A Humboldt penguin chick explores the Oregon Zoo Penguinarium

 

King Penguin Chicks Have Built In GPS

June 26, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that displaced King penguin chicks navigate well in pairs as they find their way back to base in their colony, according to a new study. King penguin chicks gather together in “creches” as they wait for parents to return with food, and if a chick gets moved to a different place in the colony it is important to get back so that the parents can find it, says researcher Anna Nesterova from the University of Oxford in England. “King penguin colonies are very crowded and can stretch for more almost a mile on the relatively flat and featureless beaches, yet individual penguins still know how to find their place within such colonies,” she says.

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‘King penguin colonies are very crowded and can stretch for more than 1km on the relatively flat and featureless beaches, yet individuals know how to find their place within such colonies’

Nesterova and colleagues tracked 31 pairs of chicks that were artificially separated from their creches as they made their way back to the correct part of the Ratmanoff colony on the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean about midway between Australia, South Africa and Antarctica.

Kerguelen_MapThe chicks navigated well in pairs, and even took turns leading in some cases. Also, pairs from the same creche arrived closer to their original location than pairs where the individual chicks were from different creches. The study, which was funded by the Institut Polaire Français and Marie Curie Actions and published in Animal Behaviour, will help us to better understand group navigation in animals, according to Nesterova, who was surprised at how quickly the chicks from different creches split up along their path back. “The chicks like to be in a group, but going towards the right destination seems to be more important,” she says. “It makes sense: if you do not know where your partner is heading, it is better not to take the risk and end up at the wrong end of the colony.”

The Day A Brooklyn Penguin Was Stolen

June 25, 2014
African Penguins at Coney Island Aquarium

African Penguins at Coney Island Aquarium

The Penguin Post has learned that on May 9, 1965 a bunch of teenagers made off with a penguin from the New York Aquarium in Coney Island and then took him for a ride on the subway.  Why would they steal a penguin, you ask?  They never really answered that question because the authorities never caught them, but the simple answer is most likely, why not?

The story goes like this: an MTA policeman was on routine patrol on the subway at Stillwell Avenue when he spots a group of teens hop on his subway car carrying a cardboard box. The kids spot the officer, and calmly leave the train at the next station, but leave the box with the penguin in it behind. The box begins to move getting the officers attention.

Being near the beach the policeman figures at first that it’s a seagull so he picks up the box to take it outside and release it.  Upon opening it and getting nipped  he notices this is not even close to being a seagull. It’s a penguin!

He then secures the box, assumes that this fugitive penguin has come from the aquarium and calls them to check.  Lo and behold the aquarium makes a penguin head count and they find they’re a penguin down, so the officer gets back on the train and a few stops later the penguin was returned safely.

BTW, a pilfered penguin incident happened again at the aquarium in 1967. After that the penguin exhibit was redesigned to keep the penguins in and people out.  The Penguin Post learned all this after stumbling across this fun New York Historical Society video.

 

Emperor Penguins On The Move

June 24, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that Emperor penguins, thought to be tied to a single breeding location, are willing to relocate their nesting grounds in response to climate change, according to a recent studies. 

penguinResearchers tracked penguin colonies through satellite images over three years and reported six instances of them shifting to different locations in response to changing temperatures.  Up until now, it was believed that emperor penguins return to the same breeding grounds annually. The behavior is also known as philopatric behavior.  “Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviors we thought we understood about emperor penguins,” said UM researcher Michelle LaRue, in the press release.  “If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn’t make any sense,” she said. ” These birds didn’t just appear out of thin air — they had to have come from somewhere else.” Researchers were concerned lately that retreating sea ice caused by climate change could affect the colony that breeds on it. However the recent satellite images showed the area is not isolated at all.  “That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes,” LaRue added.

14th Anniversary Of The Great Penguin Rescue

June 23, 2014

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the rescuing of 40,000 African penguins following the Treasure oil spill in 2000 – an animal rescue that still stands as the largest and most successful ever undertaken.

African penguins oiled in the June 23, 2000 Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Tony Van Dalsen

African penguins oiled in the June 23, 2000 Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Tony Van Dalsen

All told thousands of professionals and volunteers managed to save 90% of the 19,000 penguins that were oiled, and 95% of the 38,500 penguins that were handled.

Release of cleaned and rehabilitated African penguins following the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa. (The pink spots are a temporary dye to indicate the birds are ready for release, and to help researchers spot them on their islands.) Photo by Tony Van Dalsen, DAFF

Release of cleaned and rehabilitated African penguins following the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa. (The pink spots are a temporary dye to indicate the birds are ready for release, and to help researchers spot them on their islands.) Photo by Tony Van Dalsen, DAFF

In addition to the 19,000 oiled birds, another 19,500 unoiled penguins were moved out of the path of the rapidly approaching oil slick.  This incredible undertaking is well documented in Dyan DeNapoli’s book, The Great Penguin Rescue.

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How To Draw An Emperor Penguin

June 21, 2014

If you love penguins (and who doesn’t), but find it a bit challenging drawing one, as not everyone is Liz Bannish, here’s a little tutorial on how to make it easy to sketch your favorite flightless waddling bird.

But first a little Emperor Penguin did you know:

  • The Emperor Penguin was first documented in 1844.
  • The Emperor walks over 75 miles to a breeding area.
  • They can stay under water for almost 18 minutes.
  • An adult Emperor weighs almost 100 pounds.
  • They swim to almost 2,000 feet deep.
  • This penguin species can live up to almost 50 years old.
  • They grow up to over 4 feet tall.
  • These penguins can survive in minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Emperor Penguins On the Move?

June 21, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that a new study led by the University of Minnesota offers new insights on the long-term future of emperor penguins by showing that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment better than we expected.

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Researchers have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, which means they would return to the same location to nest each year. The new research study used satellite images to show that penguins may not be faithful to previous nesting locations.

Researchers involved in the new study found six instances in just three years in which emperor penguins did not return to the same location to breed. They also report on one newly discovered colony on the Antarctic Peninsula that may represent the relocation of penguins.

University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering researcher and the study’s lead author Michelle LaRue shared her findings at the IDEACITY conference in Toronto on June 20.  “Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviors we thought we understood about emperor penguins,” said LaRue. “If we assume that these penguins come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn’t make any sense. These penguins didn’t just appear out of thin air—they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies. That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes.”

Emperor penguins are a well-studied species and have recently been elevated to celebrity status with movies like “Happy Feet” and the documentary “March of the Penguins.”

The “March of the Penguins” colony is called Pointe Géologie and it’s been studied for more than 60 years. Researchers observe the colony every year and look, in particular, for birds that have been banded by researchers to return to the colony. In recent decades researchers have been concerned about how receding  may affect the emperor penguins that breed on it.

Over five years in the late 1970s, the Southern Ocean warmed and at the same time the penguin colony at Pointe Géologie, declined by half (6,000 breeding pairs to 3,000 breeding pairs). The decline was thought to be due to decreased survival rates. In other words, researchers thought that the warming temperatures were negatively impacting the survival of the species.

High-resolution satellite imagery has changed all that because now researchers can see the entire coastline and all the sea ice. Because emperor penguins are the only species out on the sea ice, they can look at images and identify their presence through the telltale sign—their guano stain. Before satellite images, researchers thought Pointe Géologie was isolated and there was nowhere else for the penguins to go. The  show that Pointe Géologie is not isolated at all. Plenty of colonies are within easy travel distance for an .

“It’s possible that penguins have moved away from Pointe Géologie to these other spots and that means that maybe those banded birds didn’t die,” LaRue said. “If we want to accurately conserve the species, we really need to know the basics. We’ve just learned something unexpected, and we should rethink how we interpret colony fluctuations.”



Penguin Prognosticators

June 20, 2014

One of the breakout stars of the 2010 World Cup was Paul the octopus, an “animal oracle” that rose to fame by correctly predicting the results of all eight Germany matches as well as the winner of the final. Sadly, Paul passed away later in 2010. His multiple shoes will obviously be tough to fill for this tournament (and not just because there are eight of them).

The Penguin Post is proud to report the new animal oricle this year are Penguins, and one special penguin named Don Juan is one of Germany’s “penguin World Cup oracles.”

At an event at the Spreewald Spa in Germany, the flightless Don Juan predicted a German win over Ghana this coming Saturday by nudging the Germany ball first with his beak. Curiously, all of Don Juan’s penguin friends also appear to have picked Germany.

A penguin approaches a ball displaying the national flag of Germany (C) near another featuring Ghana' flag (R) at the Spreewelten-Bad, a sauna and swimming-pool facilities with penguins, in Lubbenau, eastern Germany, during an oracle event organized on June 19, 2014 on the eve of the FIFA World cup Brazil football match Germany vs Ghana.

A penguin approaches a ball displaying the national flag of Germany (C) near another featuring Ghana’ flag (R) at the Spreewelten-Bad, a sauna and swimming-pool facilities with penguins, in Lubbenau, eastern Germany, during an oracle event organized on June 19, 2014 on the eve of the FIFA World cup Brazil football match Germany vs Ghana.

Meanwhile, over in Tokyo, a 2-year-old penguin named Aochan made a prediction on the opening Japan vs. Ivory Coast match by spinning a wheel with her beak. The wheel predicted a Japan draw, but the Ivory Coast went on to win that match, 2-1.  Apparently, spinning a wheel is no way to pick a winner.

Meanwhile, over in Tokyo, a 2-year-old penguin named Aochan made a prediction on the opening Japan vs. Ivory Coast match by spinning a wheel with her beak. The wheel predicted a Japan draw, but the Ivory Coast went on to win that match, 2-1.

Meanwhile, over in Tokyo, a 2-year-old penguin named Aochan made a less than accurate prediction via the wheel spin.

Though the verdict is still out on the accuracy of penguins as World Cup penguin oracles. Thankfully, any lack of psychic ability is made up tenfold by cuteness.  Just don’t bet the igloo on these penguin picks just yet.  There’s still a few kinks to work out.