Posts Tagged ‘bronx zoo’

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.

Little Penguins Big Hit In The Bronx

May 25, 2015

If you’ve ever thought the only thing that could be cuter than a baby penguin would be a baby penguin that never grows up, your wish has sort of come true. It turns out there’s a species of very small penguins officially called…the Little Penguin or the Little Blue Penguin.

At just over a foot tall and weighing only two to three pounds full grown, the native Australian Little Penguins are the smallest penguins in the world. They’re also called Fairy penguins, and you could even go with “blue penguins” as well—a name that references the blue tone of the species’ feathers—and still be understood by the average penguin expert.  maxresdefault

Now, the Penguin Post has learned that the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society of New York has just put a breeding colony of the penguins on exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. It’s the first time the diminutive species has been in residence anywhere in New York, according to WCS. “The little penguins are acclimating well to their new home and are quite a sight to see,” said Jim Breheny, general director of the WCS zoos and aquarium, in a statement.

Little penguins are listed as a species “of least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of endangered species—although at least one population, a breeding colony in Sydney Harbor, has been declared endangered by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.

Little penguin wild populations are declining overall, however, in part because of the impacts of climate change. Recent studies show that more intense coastal storms, warming waters, and changing ocean currents drive off the krill, small fish, and squid that little penguins feed on. Swimming farther from their nests to find food puts a lot of stress on the adult birds, leading to underweight chicks and lower chick survival rates.

Young Cancer Survivor and His Penguin Passion

May 1, 2011

After battling an aggressive form of cancer for the last eight months, 6-year-old Aghelos Kouvaras has beaten the odds. And now he wants to apply his survivor skills to another mission: saving endangered penguins.  In a heartwarming story of the human spirit and penguin passion, Kouvaras, a first grader at South Salem Elementary in Port Washington on Long Island, spent nearly a year in and out of hospitals receiving chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was during his own battle that he decided he wanted to help the penguins win theirs. In September, Kouvaras was diagnosed with a tumor in his abdomen. Reading books about penguins helped pass the time during his hospital stays, and he learned about the threats facing the species. Kouvaras became passionate about the penguin plight and decided he wanted to help, according to his family and Bronx Zoo officials who are giving him the opportunity to do just that. “In the hospital, I asked Aggie if he had a wish; if there was anything he wanted,” said the boy’s mother, Elizabeth Kouvaras. “He didn’t want an X-box or a Playstation. He said he wanted to save penguins. ‘What are we going to do without animals?’ he asked. If they die, we will all die.”

Aghelos Kouvaras with the penguins he loves.

 The Penguin Post has learned that it was this penguin passion that has inspired the boy’s family, teachers and community to help him get his wish.  They will raise money for penguin conservation by joining the Wildlife Conservation Society’s third annual Run for the Wild on Saturday. The run is dedicated to helping save penguins. “Aghelos is an encouragement to everyone at WCS,” said John Calvelli, WCS executive vice president of public affairs. “His work to raise money to save penguins while fighting his own battle is inspirational. He has become a role model for an entire community.” Young Aghelos completed his chemotherapy treatments just weeks before yesterdays Run for the Wild, where Aghelos joined the nearly 80 members of “Team Aghelos” in the 5K Run for the Wild and family fun run/walk at the Bronx Zoo. The child and his supporters have already raised more than $3,000 for the Run for the Wild and undoubtedly raised thousands more at yesterdays race.