Penguins Melt Your Hearts While Their Poop Melts The Ice

May 2, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that Gentoo penguins have given the term nesting a whole new meaning.  The penguins poop on their frozen landscape in the Antarctic to melt it, creating the ideal location to rear their young when the time comes, new video footage suggests.42-67137516.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Though most humans wouldn’t consider poop an appropriate decoration for a child’s nursery (although it is certainly a common element in them), poop seems to play a key role in penguins’ breeding behavior. This poop “landscaping” is probably unintentional: The penguins most likely aren’t considering the feng shui of their feces and deliberately pooping to make room for their chicks’ nurseries, researchers said.

Gentoo penguin pooping in the snowThe new insight came from thousands of hours of video taken by researchers from the University of Oxford in England, along with the Australian Antarctic Division. The researchers spent a year videotaping the behavior of a colony of Gentoo penguins on Cuverville Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula. The team also used snow gauges to measure how fast snow melted as the tuxedo-clad birds came and went. [See Video of the Penguin’s Poop Landscaping]

The frosty region is usually blanketed by snow and ice, but that changed at certain times of the year. The birds aggregated in large groups, leaving huge piles of guano, or poop. The dark color of the poop allowed the light from the weak Antarctic sun to be more quickly absorbed. That, in turn, fueled the melting of the ice and left a lot of bare rocky shelters — perfect nesting grounds for rearing their adorable penguin chicks.

Gentoo penguins, or Pygoscelis papua, are among the rarest of the Antarctic birds, with fewer than 300,000 breeding pairs on the icy continent, according to the British Antarctic Survey. The Gentoo’s, like many other penguins, are monogamous, usually mating with the same partner year after year. Each female penguin lays just two eggs for the season, so it’s no surprise that they aggressively protect their eggs, according to the British Antarctic Survey. The penguins tend to place their eggs on hilltops and open beaches, collecting bits of pebbles and other objects from their surroundings for their nests.

Name That Penguin Contest

April 8, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that this week the Rosamont Gifford Zoo in Syracuse NY is holding an online naming contest for its new Humboldt penguin chicks. The two females hatched in January at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo are the offspring of Mario and Montana. The zoo says an initial request last week yielded 961 suggested names, most from the U.S. and some from the United Kingdom.

Humboldt_penguin_chickNow the finalists chosen by a committee of zoo staff that considered creativity and overall appeal will go to an online vote. A Latin American influence was also a factor because the Humboldts populate the west coast of South America. The finalists are: Alejandra, Calypso, Frida, Malia and Muchacha. Voting started Monday and will run through 4 p.m. Friday on the zoo website.  So go and cast your vote.

Tennessee Penguins Get Rocked

April 8, 2015

These penguins are eager for their stones. They begin screeching with excitement as the first bucket of rocks is dumped inside their home in the Penguins’ Rock exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium on Thursday morning.

“These are like magic rocks that signal breeding season,” said Loribeth Lee, senior aviculturist at the aquarium. “They have a one-track mind, and breeding is all they can think about.” Once a year, typically during the first week of April, aquarium staffers begin to haul more than 500 pounds of rocks into the exhibit for the penguins to use to build their nests. The rocks they bring in are specially selected: they need to be small enough for penguins to carry in their beaks, but not so small they can be swallowed, Lee said. During the breeding season, penguins are noticeably more aggressive, Lee said. They occasionally get into fights over rocks and each other’s nests.

040315b01aquariumpenguins6774361180_t1070_hf79e995f9b9e2c374955a3cc86ce3d3230a0d19e-1As soon as the nests begin to take shape, the penguins will start to select their partners for the mating season. The aquarium’s exhibit is home to two breeds of penguins, macaronis and gentoos. Both breeds will mate only with their own kind, and the couples will remain together throughout the breeding season.

This year there are 19 penguins of breeding age. “This means one female is going to be left out,” Lee said. “We don’t really know who will end up together.” Aquarium staff anticipate having about 14 eggs, but Lee said it’s normal to only have a handful of chicks hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the chicks will stay under the protection of their parents for 10 weeks, hardly  moving.  Hunter Hays, 12, was visiting the aquarium on Thursday with his family. He and his younger brother stood at the glass walls of the exhibit and watched as the penguins frantically carried rocks in their beaks. “It’s really cool seeing how the penguins build their nests,” he said. “But I don’t think I want a penguin for a pet. I bet they could get annoying and would be kind of loud.”

Flying Penguins Discovered!

April 1, 2015

An amazing discovery in Antarctica!  A colony of actual flying penguins!  A hybrid of Adelie penguins to be exact.  Our world is changed forever. 

A Penguin Goes To School

March 27, 2015

Oh joy! That was the look on the faces of Loveland Primary School second-grade students in Paula Hickey’s class Friday, March 13, when the Newport Aquarium’s Jolene Hanna brought in a special visitor to school in Loveland, Ohio. “The reaction was pure awe!” said Hickey. “As soon as the penguin was presented there was hush in the room and a look of amazement on all their faces!”

LPSPenguin

What followed was a lesson on black-footed penguins the students are sure to remember. Mrs. Hanna – who happens to have a child in the class, shared facts about the penguin including what she does to take care of the penguins as well as other animals at the aquarium. She gave the class plenty of time to ask questions and observe the penguin walking around the room, and even allowed students to pet the new friend.

“It is important to incorporate events like this because it brings real-world experiences into the classroom,” said Hickey. “We were able to talk to an expert about penguins, and learn about them first-hand. It also allows students to hear about career opportunities, and half of them said they wanted to work with animals after the presentation. This was a true classroom – community connection.”

Baby Humboldt Penguin Hat Trick

March 27, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that this month, the Oregon Zoo welcomed three new Humboldt penguin chicks to their colony.  Zoo keepers say the penguins’ genders won’t be known until their first full veterinary checkup, which will take place in about three months.

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The new arrivals are staying warm in their nest boxes and growing strong on a diet of regurgitated “fish smoothie” provided by their parents, according to zoo keepers. “The chicks look like velvety gray plush toys,” said curator Michael Illig, who oversees the zoo’s birds and species recovery programs. “They weigh just a few ounces and can fit in the palm of your hand.” Visitors will be able to view the young penguins this Summer, once the chicks fledge and begin to explore the zoo’s Penguinarium.

By summer, the three chicks will be grayish-brown all over and be nearly as tall as the adult Humboldts. Their distinctive black-and-white tuxedo markings won’t develop for a couple more years. Humboldt penguins live along the South American coastline off Peru and Chile. In 2010, the penguins were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Henry The Penguin Waddles Far From Home

March 19, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that a rare penguin found wandering hundreds of miles from home is now en route back to the sea near where he hails from. The rare penguin in question is a Fiordland Crested Penguin from southern New Zealand named Henry was found wandering around the center of Akaroa, a town near Christchurch, New Zealand about three weeks ago.   Christchurch is located about two thirds of the way up New Zealand’s southern main island, and when discovered Henry was not only hungry and thirsty. He was moulting.11401516 Kevin Parthonnaud who first discovered the wayward penguin said Henry, who evaded capture at first, had been staying in his garden in Akoura.  Fiordland Crested Penguins, are classified as “endangered”, and are one of the rarest penguin species in the world. Their breeding range extends from south Westland to Fiordland, and on islands in the Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island, many hundreds of miles south of Christchurch. West Coast Penguin Trust manager Inger Perkins said she had not heard of a Fiordland crested penguin as far north as Akaroa before. “They don’t pop up away from their range that often, and especially this far north.” She also said Henry, “who could equally be a ‘Henrietta'”, was retrieved on Monday from Akaroa by Department of Conservation marine ranger Derek Cox, who was on holiday in the area with his partner. They put Henry in their van and spent the night camping out with the penguin. Henry, who was in a crate, attracted the curiosity of many local non-flightless birds. “They all just kind of looked at each other,” Perkins said. Henry’s presence also prompted a call to the police from confused campers. “We had to be sure it was not a penguin abduction,” police spokesman John Dougherty said. Henry was then delivered to Hokitika-based animal trustee Kim McPherson’s home for further fostering on Wednesday. Perkins said Henry would likely finish his moulting in the next week or so, when his newly waterproof feathers would then enable him to be returned to the sea back in his native habitat.

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Kevin Bacon is a Cute Baby Penguin

March 5, 2015

Yes, Kevin Bacon is indeed the name of an adorable new born King Penguin chick from Kentucky. The Penguin Post has learned that the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky, has a new baby king penguin that made his debut appearance Tuesday, and his name is Kevin Bacon (yes, he is named after the actor).  The name of the penguin was revealed to a group of third-graders from St. Francis de Sales School, Lebanon, during their visit to the aquarium.

Newport Aquarium senior biologist Jen Hazeres holds Kevin Bacon, a king penguin chick born Feb. 7 and unveiled at the aquarium Tuesday. He was due to hatch on Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie.

Newport Aquarium senior biologist Jen Hazeres holds Kevin Bacon, a king penguin chick born Feb. 7 and unveiled at the aquarium Tuesday. He was due to hatch on Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie.

The aquarium’s penguin population has now produced three chicks in a nine-month span. Kevin Bacon, who weighed 7.93 ounces when he was hatched Feb. 7, now weighs a whopping 2.5 pounds.  The chick’s expected hatching date was Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie. The chick’s parents are Bebe (father) and Wednesday (mother). He is the second chick the pair has reproduced. The aquarium’s king penguin population has produced three chicks in a nine-month span. There has been an average of only 14 king penguin hatchlings annually over the last 10 years at zoos and aquariums in the United States, said senior biologist Dan Clady.

 

March of The Penguins

March 2, 2015

Every penguin lover knows that March comes in like an angry Rockhopper.

830017-rockhopper-penguin and goes out like a downy Emperor Chick.

Ultimately-cute-precocious-penguin

Antarctica Penguin Perfect (For Now)

March 2, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that Antarctic sea ice levels are perfect for emperor penguins.  That according to researchers, who have found the frozen continent has in the past been (if you can believe) too cold for the bird. A team of Australian researchers, including scientists from the University of Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Division, has been investigating how emperor penguin numbers have varied over centuries.

6b8e1e81-3fcb-4a0a-b72e-4a225ae36f83-2060x1236The lead researcher, Jane Younger, said that despite emperor penguins being accustomed to temperatures of -30C, the last ice age seems to have been a snap too cold for them, when their population was about seven times smaller than in 2015. “Due to there being about twice as much sea ice compared to current conditions, the penguins were unable to breed in more than a few locations around Antarctica,” Younger said.  “The distances from the open ocean, where the penguins feed, to the stable sea ice where they breed was probably too far.” The finding suggests current sea ice conditions might be optimal for the emperor penguin population, but researchers have yet to determine the impact of further global warming.


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