Archive for November, 2014

1st Baby African Penguin Born In Russia

November 20, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that zookeepers in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk are taking care of a baby penguin that is the first of its kind born in Russia. The chick, or nestling, is a banded penguin, one of a South African breed protected by the government as an endangered species. A researcher at the zoo in Krasnoyarsk, who also takes care of the nestling, says it’s the first baby of this kind of penguin in Russia. As of now, the zoo has eight banded penguins. At the moment, the newly-hatched penguin is being kept and fed in an incubator. Specialists say the nestling will not appear in public until it grows bigger.


Noodles & Albie Gets Rave Review in Goodreads

November 18, 2014

This morning Noodles & Albie received a wonderful, 5 star review in and Bookwormforkids from Tronja Drecker.  We couldn’t be prouder.

Here’s a copy of the review:

Penguins are so cute! And Noodles definitely hits the top of the adorable scale. This small penguin embarks on his first big swim to the sea and ends up with more than he bargained for. With gorgeous, colorful illustrations, we accompany Noodles as he explores the undersea world. Young readers and listeners are introduced to the amazing life in the Southern Ocean in a simple and fun way, one which will stimulate interaction between the parent/grandparent/or whoever is reading and the child.

Although I find the text a bit difficult for the youngest readers, slightly older ones will love it (about 2+), and it’s great for early readers as well.

Summed up, this is a lovely book which will spark kid’s curiosity about life under the sea. I can only recommend it and see kids begging for a fish tank so they can watch some of these amazing creatures themselves.

Bennett Front Cover

Test Tube Penguin Adds New Meaning To Freezing Eggs

November 15, 2014

To science, she’s simply known as “184.” But on the empirical cuteness scale, the world’s first test-tube penguin scores a “100.”

Say hello to my little test tube friend

Say hello to my little test tube friend

The Penguin Post has learned that the still unnamed baby Magellanic penguin was hatched at SeaWorld in San Diego 12 weeks ago, but the first images of her were only released to the public this week. She’s the first penguin to be born using artificial insemination, a technique researchers say will help them increase diversity in the captive penguin population and help their studies of the creatures. “The goal of our research center is to study a species’ reproductive biology, to learn as much as we can about that and use this to not only monitor the health of not only our zoological populations but wild populations as well,” said Sea World’s reproductive center Scientific Director Dr. Justine O’Brien.

The baby penguin is reportedly doing well. Twelve weeks after her birth, she is mingling with the natural-born penguin population and has transitioned from being hand-fed by a team of biologists to eating fish on her own. There are an estimated 1.8 million Magellanic penguins living in the wild. The species is typically found in South America around the Falkland Islands, Chile and Argentina. The species is considered “near threatened,” as its numbers have been affected by oil spills, diminished fish populations and climate change. O’Brien says the successful breeding of 184 is not only helpful for research purposes but could help scientists in future efforts to increase the wildlife stock of penguins and other species.

Penguin 184 has a special place in history. Hundreds of baby penguins have hatched at the Sea World facility, but they were all natural births. Sea World says that it successfully completed the first artificial insemination of an animal in captivity in 2000 but that this was the first time the technique had worked on a penguin. O’Brien tells NBC San Diego that she and her team went back and forth between trying the process with frozen and thawed sperm sampled before finally managing to succeed with a test run in May. However, O’Brien says that 184 mixes in perfectly with her four adult penguin companions.

“You could not tell if she was from frozen-thawed or fresh, chilled semen or even from natural breeding,” said O’Brien. “She’s happy and healthy, and that’s what we want to see.”

Real U.K. Penguin Love Stories

November 14, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that a real live penguin love story is being played out at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in southern England. Last year millions of British TV viewers watched on anxiously as a young Humboldt penguin Pine was introduced to the Sanctuary’s resident colony in the hope he would pair-up with single female Lola. The blind date was featured on Caroline Quentin’s documentary “Cornwall,” but gooey-eyed viewers never got to see the surprising outcome.

Pine (left) and Yoni at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Pine (left) and Yoni at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

There was indeed a happy ending, but as it transpired…for four of the colony’s residents rather than just two! Lola and Pine liked each other well enough, but it was sad Gilbert – whose original partner Ruby had passed away a year earlier – who stole Lola’s heart. Lola and a thoroughly rejuvenated Gilbert are now inseparable, but there was a further happy development to come … for Pine has also found love, with the sole remaining unattached female Yoni.

“They are the youngest of our birds, and until recently were more concerned with having fun than with romance,” said the Sanctuary’s Eileen Keeling.  “Just lately though our animal care team have noticed the pair indulging in more and more canoodling and mutual preening.”  Together with long-term partners Ivy and Piran, that makes three happy and contented couples. “Seeing their relationship blossom has been a really heart-warming experience,” said Eileen, “and now they are a proper pair it has made our Christmas already, and guaranteed a happy and affectionate festive season for all six of our birds.”

Penguins of The World 101

November 13, 2014

There are 17 species of penguin in the world, each slightly different.  Some of the species have nicknames which can cause people to think there are more than 17 species (for example the Little penguin is also known as the Blue penguin).

All of the species live in the Southern hemisphere.  Some live in Antarctica or the sub-Antarctic islands.  But many don’t live in such cold places.  They are found on the coasts of South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands.

The Emperor penguin is the only species that breeds and nests in Antarctica through the frigid winter.


List of Penguin Species:

  1. Adelie Penguin
  2. African Penguin
  3. Chinstrap Penguin
  4. Emperor Penguin
  5. Erect-Crested Penguin
  6. Fiordland Penguin
  7. Galapagos Penguin
  8. Gentoo Penguin
  9. Humboldt Penguin
  10. King Penguin
  11. Little (or Blue) Penguin
  12. Macaroni Penguin
  13. Magellanic Penguin
  14. Rockhopper Penguin
  15. Royal Penguin
  16. Snares Penguin
  17. Yellow-eyed Penguin
  18. penguins-chart

Little Little Penguin Census

November 13, 2014

The little fluffy penguin, which has been under siege for the past decade on Granite Island, Australia may have a future after all. The Little Penguin census on Granite Island was completed last month and it was found that there were 16 burrows containing 32 penguins. In 2013 there was evidence of 38 penguins, 2012 – 26 penguins and in 2011 – 102 penguins.w1200_h678_fmax

The Natural Resources Management Board (NRM) fund Flinders University to conduct the census and penguin ecologist Dr Diane Colombelli-Negrel said it is the second year the university has undergone the census. “The little penguin numbers seem to have stabilized since 2012,” Dr Colombelli-Negrel said. “Granite Island has greatly improved with the breeding success in 2013 being 1.5 (calculated as number of penguin chicks that fledged per breeding pair), which was the highest in the SA populations monitored. “However further monitoring is necessary to assess if this is a long-term trend.” What was most pleasing for Dr Colombelli-Negrel is the management and control of rats on the island. “Since 2006 we have done a lot of management to control the rats and our findings show there is no rat predation at all on the island now,” she said.

Air Mail Penguins

November 7, 2014

We love all our international customers, and the fact that there are so many devoted penguin lovers all over the world.  Most of the time our international orders ship within 24 hours and take between a week (Canada) to 10 days (Europe) to a couple of weeks (Australia & Asia).  In reality the length of time it takes to arrive at the various destinations depends more on the respective customs and local post offices as much as distance.  But, with the holidays coming up it’s all about volume and many packages get stuck and backed up waiting to clear customs.  So, that said, when it comes to international air mail penguin orders, and given our experience in all matters of mail order penguins, our advice to our penguin loving international customers is that you should place your orders at least 4 – 6 weeks in advance to guarantee your penguins arrive in time for the holidays this season.


Can Hand Reared African Penguins Be Released In The Wild?

November 6, 2014

Along the Western Cape of South Africa lives a group of endangered African penguins. These penguins breed from February through September, and then moult sometime between September and January. During the moulting period, the penguins are deprived of their waterproof feathers. That’s 21 days in which they’re prevented from diving for food and must rely on stored up fat for nutrition until their new feathers grow in. But if they begin the moult while they still have penguins in the nest, the chicks – who rely on their parents for food – could go hungry.

To help guard against starvation, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) rescues these so-called “abandoned” penguins chicks whose parents just went and started moulting, leaving their precious babies to slowly starve to death. Once the penguin chicks grow up a bit, SANCCOB releases them back into their breeding colonies. In 2007, they cared for more than 480 such chicks, and nearly twice as many the year before.


What University of Cape Town animal demographer Richard B. Sherley wanted to know was whether the birds who wound up being released back into the wild fared at least as well as those who were raised by their parents, as nature intended.

In both 2006 and 2007, SANCCOB rescued a number of orphaned Africa penguin chicks. Many of them were starving because their parents began to moult, others were abandoned by their parents after their nest sites became flood, and still others were left alone after their parents themselves had to be rehabilitated due to oiling. Of those brought in for care, 91% were released in 2006, and 73% were healthy enough to release in 2007.

Before being released, many of the birds were banded so that researchers could track their progress. The researchers estimated that 11% of rehabilitated and released penguins were recruited into breeding populations, with around 14% surviving to breeding age.

These may seem like low odds, but they compare favorably to both the likelihood of penguin survival following oil spill-related rehabilitation, and even to the likelihood of survival when penguin chicks are reared by their own parents, free of human intervention.

Half of those who were confirmed breeders had returned to their birth colony, while half had joined other colonies. That suggests that hand-rearing is a viable, if labor-intensive and costly, means to bolster the size of individual penguin colonies. It also suggests that abandoned chicks could be a useful way to help establish new breeding colonies, in better areas. “As the situation for African penguin has continued to deteriorate on the West Coast, plans have been developed to use conservation translocations to establish new breeding colonies in areas of higher prey availability along the South African coast,” write the researchers. Despite the fact that half of penguins in the current study found their way back to their birth colony, penguins aren’t stupid. “Translocated individuals will undertake some prospecting behaviour to evaluate the quality of their new habitat,” Sherley explains. If they’re released into a high-quality site with lots of prey, they might just stay.

It’s not just that penguins are adorable, iconic critters. As a group, seabirds are some of the most endangered birds on the planet. Nearly half of seabird species are declining, with nearly a third having earned a spot on the IUCN Red List. African penguins in particular declined by some seventy percent in the last 15 years, mainly owing to declines in their preferred prey, small baitfish like sardine and anchovy. By combining the hand-rearing of malnourished chicks with the establishment of new colonies at more optimal locations, researchers and conservationists might be able to help ensure a bright, fishy future for these most charismatic of seabirds.

Adorable Robot Penguin Alert

November 3, 2014

Studying wild penguins is crucial if we are to understand why they behave the way they do. But what if the apparently passive act of observation changes the way they behave? For decades, behavioral ecologists have been very mindful of this problem. A paper, just out in Nature Methods, suggests a cunning new way to collect data from penguins in their natural habitat without causing them undue stress.

A remote-controlled vehicle disguised as an emperor penguin chick makes a stealthy approach Photograph: Yvon Le Maho et al. Nature Methods

A remote-controlled vehicle disguised as an emperor penguin chick makes a stealthy approach.

There are many ways to study the behavior of penguins. You can go out and gain their trust, hoping they get so comfortable with your presence that they carry on as if you weren’t there at all. Or you might want to fit your study population with some kind of gizmo that can collect (and maybe even transmit) data in your absence. But even devices like these are likely to alter behavior.

A microchip implanted beneath the skin is much more likely to go unnoticed by the penguin. The snag is that in order to scan the chip and identify the individual penguin, you have to get pretty close. Researchers have now come up with an alternative: sending in a remote-controlled robot penguin equipped with a scanning device, the ability to collect all sorts of data on the focal animal and then transmit it into the ether. Testing this method out on king penguins, they reveal that it is likely to be a whole lot less stressful for the animals.

When approached by a human, for instance, a penguin’s heart rate increased by an average of 35 beats per minute. When the rover came at it, its heart rate also increased, but only by around 24 beats per minute. In addition, a human caused the target penguin to move much more (average of 43 cm) than the rover (just 8cm). With the robot, the penguins were also much quicker to return to their original physiological state.

The researchers went on to see if emperor penguins had a similarly relaxed reaction to robots. Many were wary. But when the scientists dressed up the rover as a baby penguin, everyone was happy. “Chicks and adults were even heard vocalizing at the camouflaged rover, and it was able to infiltrate a crèche without disturbance,” note Yvon Le Maho and colleagues.

The camouflaged rover successfully infiltrates an emperor penguin crèche Photograph: Yvon Le Maho et al. Nature Methods

The camouflaged rover successfully infiltrates an emperor penguin crèche.

This set-up is obviously not going to be workable in every setting. But it certainly does open up a lot of exciting possibilities for students of penguin behavior. Not to mention some rather wonderful photographic opportunities.

Penguins and Daylight Savings Time

November 2, 2014

Penguins-Are-Right-to-Love-DST-600x357-1With the clocks turned back this morning one hour and a long dark winter about to commence here in New England the Penguin Post has learned that there is at least one place on earth that observes perpetual summer time (even if it doesn’t feel like summer time): the penguin dominated Macquarie Island. If it weren’t a 3-by-23-mile sub-Antarctic island inhabited by millions of penguins and about 40 seasonal researchers, it would probably be my residence of choice. Don’t ask me how those penguins and scientists benefit from DST because I don’t know, but I’m sure they do. Everyone benefits from DST. More’s the pity that Australia, which administers the island, is not on Macquarie time.

Sadly, the debate in most of the world revolves around whether to keep Daylight Saving Time at all, let alone extend it throughout the year. Most critics of our annual clock change reside in the opposite camp from mine, pressing for year-round winter time.

But DST and its later sunrise and sunset bring many advantages to the table. First, energy savings may equal 100,000 barrels of oil a day. (Admittedly, many critics dispute this figure, and Mass DST energy savings are minimal.) The extra hour gives people more daylight time for shopping, which is supposed to equal economic growth, and, according to the International Business Times, “Several studies in the U.S. and Great Britain have found that the DST daylight shift reduces net traffic accidents and fatalities.” It also cuts down on crime.

Meanwhile, opponents of DST all grouse about the confusion engendered by clock changes. They are by no means wrong. People forget to set their clocks and are late for appointments—or they use the change as an excuse. Some countries and even some places in the U.S. don’t switch time, which increases the mess and makes interstate scheduling chaotic. Hawaii doesn’t observe DST, and neither does Arizona, but the Navajo Nation, which is within Arizona and two other states, does. As if that’s not confusing enough, the Hopi Reservation, which is entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation, does not observe DST. Apparently even Siri, the iPhone electronic assistant, is confused. More troubling is that heart attacks appear to rise more after the spring forward, than fall back.  Why?  I don’t know.

But why take it out on DST? It’s the clock change that’s the problem, not the daylight. This year, when we go on Daylight Saving Time, let’s simply stay there and never go back.

Of course, I already hear complaints of insensitivity toward the farming community and toward school children, whose winter days would start in unwelcoming, even dangerous, darkness. But I suspect any protests on behalf of dairy farmers come from romantics who have never visited a factory farm, where milking goes on around the clock.

I also suspect those dark childhood winters gave me a lifelong craving for more daylight—a craving that couldn’t even be satisfied by the long days and bright nights of the summer. Daylight Saving Time, with its illusion of an extra hour of light, satisfies that craving. And while waking up to darkness is no fun, having the sun disappear prematurely is truly depressing; it’s not for nothing that Shakespeare called sunset “Death’s second self.” So let’s just not touch our clocks this fall. There’s much to be learned from the penguins of Macquarie.