Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Penguin Crossing Guard

March 29, 2016

The Penguin Post had found that somewhere in the world there is a giant penguin crossing guard.  But, upon further review it’s actually a sign for a “Penguin Nature Tour” just outside of Christchurch New Zealand. 1570906710_32fd8dfe58_b

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Penguin Have No Taste (Sort Of)

March 5, 2016

Although most bird species already lack the ability to detect sweet flavors, penguins loose out on even more and are not even able to detect bitter or pleasant savory tastes. By analyzing the genomes of a range of penguin species, scientists discovered that all penguins appear to lack the genes that allow them to detect these flavors.

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It is likely that penguins lost their taste between 20 to 60 million years ago a period that saw dramatic climate cooling in Antarctica, as the necessary protein are inhibited at very low temperatures. It may also be down to penguins slippery diet, as the primary aim of their bristles-covered tongues (see photo below!) seems to be to catch and hold their prey after which it is swallowed whole.

Penguins thus perhaps do not need taste perception, although it remains unclear whether these traits are a cause or a consequence of their major taste loss, according to the study published in Current Biology. Unfortunately for the penguins it still means they are left with only sour and salty sensations when enjoying their slippery meals.

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Penguins and Blizzards

January 22, 2016

Be more like a penguin is how the folks in D.C. can make it through Blizzard Jonas in style.  Extreme blizzards with winds over 50 mph and temperatures well below 0 degrees are a common occurrences in Antarctica. So to avoid the strong, cold winds and snow Emperor Penguins will lie of their stomachs facing into the wind to lesson exposure, or in cases of extreme cold they will gather together tightly in large groups to keep warm in what’s know as the Penguin Huddle.

 

A Penguin Named For David Bowie

January 11, 2016

The Penguin Post has learned that recently the Cincinnati Zoo welcomed its first baby penguin birth of the year and has named the little waddler after David Bowie.

After taking name suggestions through Facebook and Twitter, the penguin keepers decided to name the chick Bowie, after the legendary rocker on his birthday on Friday.   The newborn chick  which is a Little Blue (Fairy) penguin, was born on Friday. Even though it was born on both David Bowie’s and Elvis Presley’s birthday, they went with the glam rock icon since there’s already a penguin named “The King.” What makes the naming of this penguin chick more appropriate is that the rock legend David Bowie passed away today, a mere three days after the naming.

Our Bowie couldn’t have come at a better time. “The Zoo celebrates Penguin Days during January and February, so it’s fitting that a penguin chick would be the first little one to arrive in 2016,”  said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard.

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A not very glam Little Penguin David Bowie

An Eyewitness to Chilly’s Escape

November 23, 2015

Here’s a first hand account of the adventures and mis-adventures of the fugitive Chilly Willy from Mark Osler, a former Detroit resident who in 1990 was witness the Chilly’s escape and subsequent adventures.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. This is my favorite holiday– I love the idea of it, and the fact that it is a holiday geared more to reflection and humility than patriotism or commerce.

But, like many other good things, there is a dark side. Those of us from Detroit know to keep a lookout for a Thanksgiving menace that appears when least expected– Chilly Willy the Penguin.

In 1990, a frozen dessert company entered a 40-foot inflatable penguin in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade down Woodward Avenue. Given the variety of social ills (street violence, poverty, a rotting infrastructure) faced by Detroit back then, few in attendance thought that a greater threat might be posed by the giant gaseous penguin. They were wrong.

Midway through the parade, Chilly Willy made a break for it. I remember this– I was there. He broke free of his handlers and charged into the sky, taunting those below. Legend has it that several bystanders stopped shooting at one another and fired at the fleeing bird to no avail. The irony was overwhelming; After decades of tragedy, now the city was under threat by a giant flightless bird that had somehow taken to the air. Now he headed for the home of the singer-songwriter who defined irony for so many of us: the Great White North’s own Alannis (“Isn’t It Ironic?”) Morrisette.

So, like other Northern-border fugitives, Chilly Willy headed to Canada. Many watched as he headed down the Detroit River and across Lake St. Clair toward freedom in a nation famous for its generous proportions of ice and snow. He got as far as Walpole Island, just into Canada, before he was finally apprehended.

Chilly Willy’s reign of terror was not complete, though. In a Napolean-like comeback, some months later he was trusted with the duties of appearing at a car dealership for promotional purposes. Not missing an opportunity, he lashed out with violence. It was not random violence, however– his target was an official of the very parade from which Willy had escaped! CW threw his terrified victim from the roof of the dealership, breaking her arm and leg, and teaching a valuable lesson on the hazards of trying to tie down a restless spirit that cannot be contained.

They say that Chilly Willy has been safely deflated and stored in a secure facility. Believe that if you want… I’m watching my back.

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The new Chilly Willy balloon in a recent parade.

Penguins Can Fly!

November 23, 2015

I love Chilly Willy and the Thanksgiving Day Parade and back in 1990, these two combined to make what for me is the best Thanksgiving Parade story ever. What many people don’t realize is the Detroit Thanksgiving Day parade is the 2nd oldest and 2nd largest in the nation.   Over the years there’s been plenty of parade balloon mishaps in NY and Detroit, but for me the one that tops them all is simply known in Detroit as the “1990 escapee”.  25 years ago on a windy Thanksgiving morning the 40 foot Chilly Willy balloon came loose and  broke free from his moorings, floating away to the delight of a cheering crowd that chanted “Fly Chilly Fly” as he drifted toward Canada and eventually out of sight.  The 40 foot tall, wayward  penguin was soon spotted by startled commercial aircraft pilots at an altitude of about 5000 feet, which must have been quite a sight.  Chilly was found the next afternoon by the Coast Guard in the water (where penguins like to go) near Walpole Island in Lake St. Clair, Canada some 25 miles from home!

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Although he didn’t really look like the classic Chilly Willy here is Chilly right before he made a break for it in 1990.

 

Lost Flying Penguins Finally Are Found!

October 10, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that the oversized flying penguins “Puddles” and “Splash” finally made it to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, with not a minute to spare. The two penguin special shape balloons and “Pirate Ship,” one of the largest hot-air balloons in the world, disappeared more than a week ago. As the fiesta got underway, the balloons’ pilots frantically searched for them, but nary a penguin squawk nor pirate’s “Arrrr” could be heard.

British pilot and owner Andrew Holly said Friday night that the balloons were shipped from Bristol, England, in August. “We checked on their progress, and the shipping company gave us confirmation that they were delivered Sept. 24 to Balloon Fiesta Park,” he said. Holly and the other pilots, Andy Collett and Lee Hooper, arrived on the Friday before the fiesta started, only to discover that the balloons were nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, they were not getting much response from the shipping company, which Holly declined to name.

“We were pretty angry. It was the perfect weekend, and we lost a lot of publicity and good flying,” he said of the first weekend. “We were hoping maybe they were in a warehouse in Albuquerque.” On Monday, Holly and his crew spent the day trying to trace the location of the balloons. “Finally, the shipping company responded and said they had been in New York and were in transit to Albuquerque and would be here Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, Holly and crew had a little lighthearted fun by recording and posting a video modeled after a missing child appeal. “This is a direct appeal to the good people of Albuquerque to help us find our missing penguins … . We are particularly concerned for their safety as the Exclusive Ballooning Pirate Ship was also seen in the vicinity making its way to Albuquerque. … Puddles, Splash, if you can hear us, we are not angry with you and you are not in trouble; we just miss you and want you to come to Balloon Fiesta Park here in Albuquerque.”

Finally, on Wednesday, the shipping company told Holly that the balloons were in Los Angeles. “At that point, I got British lawyers involved, and suddenly the shipping company was helpful and they had the balloons overnighted to Albuquerque.”

Not quite the happy ending.  “A lot of things were damaged,” particularly the envelope of the Pirate Ship, “which looks like a forklift went through the travel bag,” said Holly. Still Puddles, Splash and Pirate Ship were able to inflate for the Friday morning Special Shapes Rodeo and the Friday night Special Shapes Glowdeo after temporary repairs were made.

Which just goes to show, you can’t keep a good penguin down, even in the face of pirates.

/ The British balloons Puddles and Splash finally made an appearance at the   mass accession of special shapes at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Friday morning.

/ The British balloons Puddles and Splash finally made an appearance at the mass accession of special shapes at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Friday morning.

Missing Penguin Found

June 23, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that rescue workers cleaning up a zoo in the Georgian capital wrecked by severe flooding have found one of its missing penguins alive, hiding in the bushes.

9d1b7643bac64edaa7e2362050a02228-1fb07b8b145c46f485bc8164f2375c1b-5Zoo spokesman Mziya Sharashidze said Tuesday the bird was the tenth of its 17 penguins found alive after the June 14 flooding that killed more than half of the zoo’s 600 inhabitants. Another penguin was found alive last week in the Kura River near the border with Azerbaijan, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the capital of the former Soviet republic.

Little Blue Penguins Settling In To The Bronx

June 16, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that the colony of Little Blue Penguins which has recently made its debut in the Aquatic Bird House at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo are settling in nicely. Julie-Larsen-Maher_6157_Little-Penguins_ABH_BZ_05-14-15Named for their small size and characteristic bluish hue, little blue penguins are also known as blue penguins, little penguins, and fairy penguins. Full-grown adults are only about 13 inches tall and weigh 2 to 3 pounds. They are the smallest of the 18 penguin species and native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand. These are the first little blue penguins to be on exhibit at the Bronx Zoo and there are only three facilities in the U.S. that currently have them.  All of the birds in the colony were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx Zoo as part of a breeding program. Approximately 15 penguins a year hatch at Taronga, making it the most successful little penguin breeding program in the world. The Bronx Zoo penguins will help ensure continued genetic diversity in the little penguin populations in the U.S.

“The little penguins are acclimating well to their new home and are quite a sight to see,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and General Director of the WCS Zoos and Aquarium. “The Bronx Zoo is focused on the conservation of the species we exhibit, and international partnerships and breeding programs like that of the little penguin are vital to ensuring the survival of the species in the wild through education, awareness, and connecting people to nature in a way that can only be accomplished through close, in-person encounters.”

Taronga Zoo Director and Chief Executive, Cameron Kerr, said: “The little penguins at the Bronx Zoo have taken on the role of international ambassadors for their species. Visitors to the Bronx Zoo from around the world can come to learn about these wonderful Australian marine animals. This group of little penguins will ensure a thriving population in the U.S. for many years to come.”

The species occurs in temperate marine waters and feed on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They nest colonially in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas. Like other penguin species, they use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other. In the wild, their populations are threatened by climate change and human activities.

The Bronx Zoo is supporting Taronga Zoo’s little penguin conservation programs in Sydney Harbor.  The work includes monitoring, awareness campaigns, rescue and rehabilitation, breeding programs, and more. Man-made nest boxes can provide safety from introduced predators and guard dogs have been used in some places to discourage predation.

Penguins Do Have Knees

June 10, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that x-rays of a penguin show that penguins do indeed have knees.  They’re just located well inside their torso. Hg4s45b