Archive for August, 2014

Penguin Gets The Right Trousers

August 30, 2014



The Penguin Post has learned that a baby Humboldt penguin had trouble standing properly after his parents sat on him a bit too enthusiastically when they were trying to keep him warm. Keepers at the Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary in the U.K. discovered the problem when the chick was three weeks old. It was important to straighten out the problem as soon as possible, as chicks grow extremely quickly and he could have been permanently disabled unless the problem was fixed. In this case, the penguin was fitted with some special trousers made of tight-fitting elastic, which helped to keep his legs in the right position.

Lyndsey Crawford from Scarborough SEA LIFE Sanctuary, where the penguin lives, said: “We have also been sitting him in a shallow pot to help keep his legs in the right position and gradually correct his posture as he continues to grow!”

The penguin will go for his first swim in the next few weeks when he will outgrow his trousers, and his adult feathers are fully developed and coated in their special waterproof oil coating for waterproofing.

A Pair Of Baby Penguins Take First Waddle

August 30, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that The Aquarium of the Pacific introduced two new cuties to the public today as they waddled into the June Keyes Penguin Habitat for the first time.

The pair of female chicks are two of four baby penguins birthed earlier this year and are part of the Magellanic Penguin family. Native to Argentina and Chile, the babies are sporting beautifully shiny coats—much to the chagrin and frustration of their adult counterparts, who are going through the aggravating two-week long process of molting (and currently look mighty angry about it).

If you’re curious about their names, well, their monikers could very well be up to you. The public will have the opportunity to name one of the chicks through the Aquarium’s Adopt-a-Chick program. When you participate in the program by donating $100 or more before October 31, you will be given the chance to submit a name.

The parents of the chick born in late May are Kate and Avery—two of the Aquarium’s birds that were rescued off the coast of Brazil. The parents of the second female penguin born this summer are Patsy and Noodles.


Noodles & Albie Book Review

August 30, 2014

By TINKY WEISBLAT for the Greenfield Recorder

“Noodles & Albie” by Eric Bennett, Illustrations by Liz Bannish (Small Batch Books, 32 pages, $17.95)

Children’s books need story, information, humor and illustrations. “Noodles & Albie” puts all of those factors to good use in the tale of an Antarctic penguin who enjoys his first ocean adventure — and the fish who becomes his best friend.

Noodles is an emperor penguin who has never learned to swim. His parents warn him that if he doesn’t start getting around in the water by the time the sun sets over Antarctica for the year, he will be left behind when his penguin colony swims out to sea in the following spring.

Although he is still scared of the water, Noodles makes his way into the ocean on the final day of sunlight — and takes to it like a duck (or rather a penguin) to water.

Unfortunately, he has such a good time swimming that he loses track of his fellow penguins. Soon, he realizes that he has no idea how to get back to the penguin colony.

He asks a number of sea creatures how to find his way home, but they are preoccupied with their own lives and have no idea how to steer him safely to his parents.

As twilight falls, Noodles begins to despair of ever returning to his home and family. Fortunately, he is accosted by a small, colorful fish named Albie who knows the region’s geography “like the back of (her) fin.” She manages to lead him where he needs to go — and out of the path of a ravenous leopard seal.

Noodles spends the winter maturing and planning the trip to sea with his fellow penguins. He doesn’t forget Albie, however, and never loses hope that he will see her again.

“Noodles & Albie” is a charming story of making friends and conquering fear. Eric Bennett, who lives in Northampton, is a longtime penguin fan who has told a version of this story to his young daughters. Bennett ran a penguin-themed gift shop in New York City for years; it is now an online presence called

Liz Bannish, also of Northampton, makes Noodles, Albie, and their worlds colorful and attractive in her watercolor illustrations. The book would be a wonderful gift for an animal- or fish-loving child.

As a bonus, the book includes a “Noodles & Albie Q & A” that addresses questions children may have about penguins in general and Noodles in particular.

World Eye reading Sept. 6

Bennett and Bannish will read from “Noodles & Albie” at the World Eye Bookshop on Saturday, Sept. 6, from 11 a.m. to noon. A stuffed penguin will be given to purchasers of the book — and a prize will be given to the child who performs the best penguin walk.

Bennett Front Cover


Noodles & Albie Debut Reading and Penguin Party

August 29, 2014

To say our Noodles & Albie launch party / event / reading / slideshow at the White Square Bookshop was a success last week is like saying penguins are cute.  It was and they are, but it was so much more.  This being our first book and our first book public event made it unforgettable.  On the way to the White Square to set up that Sunday morning my daughter Sophie tried to keep me even keeled by saying, “Ya know dad, don’t get all bent out of shape if only five people show up”.  She had noticed that I had packed our little car with 30 of everything.  30 penguin goodie bags, enough penguin cheese crackers and peachy penguin gummies for a school outing,  a nice size box penguin prizes for the various contests we were to run, 30 plush penguins to give out with the books, and a case of 30 Noodles & Albie books.  


I pondered what to wear and at first I wore a dress shirt with a penguin tie, jeans and sneakers trying to channel that unique hipster-doofus children’s author persona, but both my kids immediately vetoed it, and unanimously encouraged me to don a new Chilly Willy t-shirt and baseball hat.  I wisely followed their sage advice.  So with my little VW Beetle packed to the gills with boxes of penguins and two kids we set off and of course we arrived absurdly early.  I put Sophie and Rose to work making 30 snack cups of penguin crackers and gummies.  We then set out baskets of the penguin goodie bags, the fun multiple choice penguin quiz  sheets I made up,  Eileen, the owner of White Square, made a cooler of blue colored Penguin Polar Punch with marshmallows floating on the top to simulate mini icebergs (very clever Eileen).  Sophie wrote up some signage, “Penguin Goodie Bags, One Per Kid”, and  “Take Our Penguin Quiz: Win Prizes”.  We were done in 20 minutes, and so to keep my kids from destroying the bookstore with an hour to go before the reading we waddled down the road to Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Every once in while I’d walk over to White Square to see if anyone had shown up, and soon a couple of friends, then a fan showed up, then Liz and her family entourage.  This was the first time I got to meet her extended clan so that was a treat.  While we were all chatting I turned around to find that the room was filling up and there was a line at the counter. Eileen was even selling books!  People who we did not know were asking Liz and I to sign the books they had just purchased!  By the time the reading was set to begin the place was packed.  I made an announcement that kids should sit upfront on the floor and adults in the back.  I climbed onto a stool with copy of Noodles & Albie in hand with Liz sitting to my left in charge of the slideshow manning the projector.  As Eileen introduced us I looked up and I could not believe how many people were there, kids and adults, friends, family and fans who had come from near and far.  I made a little speech about how the book came to be, introduced Liz, and began to read.  “After six long months of daylight, the sun was finally beginning to set on the Antarctic summer, and Noodles had not gone on his first swim…”


When the reading was over, there was applause and congratulations. Kind of embarrassed I immediately launched into my penguin quiz, while Liz held a “how to draw a penguin class with the kids” that was a hit.  Sophie the quiz master checked answers and gave out penguin prizes according to how many correct answers each kid got.  Then more schmoozing and signing of books.  Finally, we held our kids best waddle competition, in which Liz’s mom Nancy must get honorable mention although it was more like a prancing pup than a penguin waddle.  All told there were probably 50  people in attendance.  Liz and I sold and signed 26 books.  The event was suppose to be from 2 pm to 3 pm.  I got home a 4:30 bringing a lot less penguins up the stairs than I took down the stairs earlier that day.


On the way home Sophie said, “Dad, I knew it was going to be o.k., but I said not to get your hopes up just in case, ya know? Because I didn’t want you to get your expectations too high and have your feelings hurt.”  “And now?”  I asked.  “You and Liz kicked butt!” she said.

Noodles & Albie Waddles On

August 15, 2014
Eric and Liz on WHMP morning show talking about Noodles & Albie

Eric and Liz on WHMP morning show talking about Noodles & Albie

Noodles & Albie is the little penguin book that could. Two weeks ago we were featured in the Springfield Republican . This week Liz and I have been interviewed by Bob Flaherty on WHMP the major radio station serving the Northampton / Amherst area, and this morning Noodles & Albie was written up in the Hampshire Gazette, as we begin our series of readings and penguin events this Sunday at 2 pm the White Square Book Shop and on Friday at 2pm at the Odyssey Bookstore in South Hadley Mass.

Below is the article from today’s Gazette.

Whoever heard of a penguin that can’t swim? Well, Noodles, a nervous young penguin who’s a key character in a new children’s book, has just that problem. Noodles, unlike his peers, has yet to dip his flippers into the icy waters off Antarctica, and his parents warn him that if he doesn’t learn how to swim, he’ll be left behind in the spring when the whole colony puts to sea.

In “Noodles & Albie,” published by Small Batch Books of Amherst, Noodles does make it into the water, discovering to his delight that swimming is a blast and that the undersea world is a fascinating place — so fascinating, in fact, that he soon becomes lost. He asks a host of creatures — an eel, a squid, a crab, a starfish — if they know the way to the penguin colony, but none of them can help him.

But then a small red fish, Albie, comes to the rescue, guiding Noodles back to his home, the two of them racing through the last stretch of ocean as they try to outrun a ferocious leopard seal that’s intent on turning Noodles into dinner. Noodles is happily reunited on the snow-covered shore with his mother and father. But will he ever see his new friend again?

The story of how “Noodles & Albie” came to be is an interesting one in its own right. Author Eric Bennett, who lives in Northampton, runs an online business selling all manner of penguin-related merchandise, and he’d long told his two young daughters a version of the tale as a bedtime story. Eventually he put some of it down on paper, with a few illustrations to boot, and he says the tale got an enthusiastic reception when he read it last year at his daughter’s kindergarten class at the Bridge Street Elementary School.

When parents and children began asking for printed copies of the story, Bennett talked with his friend Liz Bannish, a Northampton artist, and the two decided to make a children’s book — a first for both of them. Bannish, who has some background in marine biology, has created a wealth of colorful watercolor and ink illustrations for the book, which the New York Daily News calls “A sweet, fun story of penguins and friendship.”

Eric Bennett and Liz Bannish will read “Noodles & Albie” on Aug. 17 at 2 p.m. at White Square Books in Easthampton and on Aug. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley; events specially geared for children will be featured.
Bennett Front Cover

Giant Prehistoric Penguin Found

August 11, 2014
The awe-inspiring Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, at nearly 7 feet tall - believed to be the biggest penguin ever.

The awe-inspiring Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, at nearly 7 feet tall – believed to be the biggest penguin ever.

Penguins are adorable – their tuxedo plumage, their precious waddle with their little vestigial wings balancing them, their charming fluffy chicks resting on daddy’s scaly clawed feet. You look down at them and smile.

Now imagine one looking down at you. Wonder what he’d think?  Fossil penguins that are nearly seven feet long and almost certainly taller than you have been discovered on the Antarctic Peninsula by Argentine paleontologists, who have dubbed the extinct bird ‘Colossus’ by virtue of its awesome proportions.

More formally known as Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, it is the largest-known penguin ever to have walked (waddled) the earth.

It bears elaboration that penguins aren’t measured by “height,” but by “length,” because of their penguin-like posture. Their height is somewhat lesser than their length from beak-tip to toes. In the case of Colossus penguin, its beak was mighty long.  But, unless you’re NBA material, it most likely towered over you.

Experts had known that giant penguins had existed, says paleontologist Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche, who works at the La Plata Museum. They just hadn’t thought they got that big.

The breakthrough was when Acosta Hospitaleche found an astonishingly large tarsometatarsus – a fused ankle-foot bone – that spanned 9.1 centimeters (about 4 inches) on Seymour Island. It was the biggest ever found for a penguin, and from it she extrapolated that the bird was a hair over two meters long, from beak-tip to toe.

The biggest contemporary penguin is the Emperor, which is pretty hefty 90 lbs, and can max out at a height, I mean length of just about four feet.  Colossus was nearly three feet taller and weighed twice as much as the Emperor, around 250 pounds, say the scientists.


Present Day Emperor Penguin and Chick

Sad to say this big boy went extinct some 35 million years ago, a time when the region was somewhat warmer, rather like the tip of South America today. The Colossus was one of many species – about ten, or 14, depending on classifications by squabbling paleontologists – of penguin on Seymour Island.

Modern-day penguins swim beautifully, but Colossus had stamina that beat the lot, able to stay underwater for 40 minutes at a stretch, says the team from Argentina’s Museum of Natural Science. Yet they went extinct.

All of this begs a question about latter-day penguins. The birds are famous for preferring cold climes. What will happen to them in the changing, warmer world? Some scientists believe they may survive through adaptation, based on evidence that colonies thought to have disappeared had actually simply upped and moved.

First Penguin Of A Kind

August 11, 2014


The Penguin Post has learned that an adorable silver and white penguin chick living at SeaWorld San Diego is more than just her looks. She’s a scientific breakthrough.

The 12-week-old bird was a product of the world’s first penguin artificial insemination using frozen-then-thawed semen. “This is a technique that has never been performed successfully in any penguin species,” said SeaWorld’s Scientific Director Justine O’Brian. Before this trial run, O’Brian’s team just used frozen semen to inseminate the cold-weather birds because the thawed version had not worked.

But on May 14, things went just swimmingly, and the new technique proved a success when the tiny female Magellanic penguin was hatched.  This has huge implications for penguin breeding, especially of endangered populations going forward.


A Baby Tennessee Tuxedo

August 5, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that there’s a fluffy new face in the Tennessee Aquarium’s Penguins’ Rock exhibit.  Penguin lovers welcomed the new chick to the colony in June. The proud parents, “Chaos” and “Merlin,” stay busy snuggling their baby in the nest and seem to enjoy showing it off to everyone.


“Both parents have very laid back personalities, which is helpful when we need to do weight checks and clean the nest,” said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “They’re also a great parental team. Merlin serves as protector and Chaos does a great job feeding.”

Chaos certainly keeps busy since this tiny bird has a giant appetite. Aquarium guests can have fun eavesdropping on this family. A microphone inside the exhibit picks up the chick’s vocalizations whenever it begs to be fed, which seems to be almost constantly lately. The sounds of the colony are audible throughout Penguins’ Rock. But, mom responds to the begging and appears to be keeping pace. Her baby consistently weighs in at the high end of the healthy range during veterinary exams. “Baby penguins should experience rapid growth,” said Graves. “We track each chick’s progress through frequent weigh-ins and compare the results to the ranges we know are considered healthy. Since this penguin is staying pretty pudgy, it’s clear that the parents are doing a great job with feeding.”

The Aquarium’s penguin experts hope this “big mac” sets a good example for the chicks that follow it, both in demeanor and rapid growth.

Last year aviculturists had their hands full supplementing feedings for a couple of chicks up to five times each day when sluggish weight gains indicated the parents were not delivering enough nutrition on their own.

Aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich says even though the chick is very vocal, it seems to have inherited its parent’s demeanor. “He’s pretty laid-back and easygoing,” said Aldrich. “The chick doesn’t mind being handled during exams or being photographed.”

This is quite a switch from “Pepper,” another Macaroni who was also the aquarium’s very first baby penguin hatchling in 2009. “She was a feisty bird almost from the day she hatched,” said Aldrich.

Earlier this year, Pepper and 10 other penguins that were reared at the aquarium were moved to other institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They will have the opportunity to have offspring of their own while bolstering the overall genetic diversity of the Macaroni and Gentoo population in human care. This transfer also affords the aquarium’s colony more flipper room during the breeding season.

This new Macaroni penguin is the first for the 2014 season and it’s possible that aviculturists will remain very busy this season with additional chicks.

Visitors can see the new chick inside an acrylic “playpen” on the right-hand side of the exhibit. It will remain inside this protective barrier for several more weeks before it will be allowed to roam outside the nest. “Penguins need their waterproof swim feathers before they are ready to go out on their own,” said Graves. “Right now, the chick is still dependent on mom and dad, but they seem to like that just fine.”

The chick’s gender will be determined during a blood test later this year. At that time, a Facebook contest is planned to find the perfect name for him or her.


A Penguin Proposal!

August 5, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that as proposals go, this was probably the coolest as it involved an actual ring-bearing penguin. When boyfriend Mitch arranged a day out at Pittsburgh Zoo for his girlfriend Casey, little did she know it was no ordinary day out. At the zoo, Casey was overjoyed to get up close with the penguins.


But her joy turned to surprise when one of the penguins waddled out with a ring hanging from its neck on a ribbon. Unable to refuse the cute penguin (and Mitch) – Casey said yes. Mitch, who had enlisted the help of a filming crew, caught the happy event on hidden cameras. After spending their first Halloween together in penguin-themed fancy dress, the couple have always had a shared passion for their feathered friends.

Mitch said: ‘I wanted to keep the penguin theme in our relationship. I even thought of buying a penguin.’ Casey added: ‘It was just perfect. I always tell him – don’t buy me things – let’s just do things.’  They certainly did.