Posts Tagged ‘Henry Doorly Zoo’

New Penguin Chicks At Omaha Zoo

February 26, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has a trio of brand new penguin chicks that are going on display today.  The chicks — two Rockhoppers and one Gentoo — are being set up in a penguin playpen in the zoo’s Antarctic Penguin display. The playpen gives the chicks a chance to safely get used to the other penguins in the exhibit, while allowing their feathers to grow in. They’ll stay in the playpen for a few weeks.

Gentoo on the left, Rockhoppers on the right.

Gentoo on the left, Rockhoppers on the right.

The Rockhopper chicks (pictured right), which hatched between Dec. 11 and Dec. 15, weigh about 4 pounds, and the Gentoo penguin (pictured left) weighs about 12 pounds. In the wild, Rockhopper penguins reside in the South Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. Gentoo penguins can be found on Sub-Antarctic islands with the main colonies on the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands. Rockhoppers are currently listed as vulnerable and Gentoos are near threatened, both with declining populations, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List due to fisheries, loss of habitat and oil spills.

In addition to these chicks, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium currently has 80 penguins on display: 22 King penguins, 32 Gentoo penguins and 26 Rockhopper penguins.

Penguin Plunge Opens In Topkea

May 9, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that after a much anticipated wait Topeka Zoo patrons will finally get their chance to dive into the world of penguins when the Penguin Plunge opens Thursday.  A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. for the temporary exhibit of six African penguins in a replica of their South African beach habitat. The exhibit, which is housed in a building the presenting sponsor, KBS Constructors, erected specifically for it inside the Security Benefit Pavilion, is free with regular paid admission to the zoo, which will stay open until 8 p.m. Thursday to accommodate first-day visitors.

Special activities are planned for evening patrons. Zoo director Brendan Wiley said, “People are ready to go in and enjoy the experience,” which includes a 2,000-gallon pool with a glass wall through which people can watch the penguins “fly” beneath the water. The penguins are on loan from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb. Other aspects of the exhibit include educational stations that tell visitors about the 17 species of penguins worldwide and threats to their populations, such as overfishing, oil spills and harvesting of guano, which destroys nesting sites. Dispensing such information, Wiley said, helps the zoo fulfill its mission statement to “enrich the community through wildlife conservation and education.” Based on response from other places the Penguin Plunge has visited, the drawing power of the nearly 2-foot-tall birds is huge and could help the zoo toward an attendance goal it has set in its strategic plan. That document calls for roughly 175,000 guests to visit the zoo this year, an increase of 15 percent from 2011, and a step toward the goal of drawing more than 250,000 annual visits by the end of 2015. That is twice the current population of Topeka, said Wiley, or every four years a million opportunities to advance the zoo’s wildlife conservation and education efforts. Achieving that goal will mean continued maintenance of current exhibits, introduction of new ones and temporary ones, such as Penguin Plunge, which draws new visitors and rewards regular ones. “One of the things we’re focusing on is giving people more and more reasons to come back,” Wiley said. On Thursday, gates to the zoo will open, as usual, at 9 a.m. After opening comments at 9:45 a.m., Stephanie Tucker’s second-grade class at North Fairview Elementary School will be introduced. Those Seaman Unified School District 345 pupils raised nearly $1,000 in a Pennies for Penguins Coin Drive that helped generate the money needed to book the Penguin Plunge exhibit. Cair Paravel Latin School second-graders also will attend to perform a penguin song and dance before the 10:10 a.m. ribbon-cutting and the opening of Penguin Plunge, which is slated to be at the zoo until September. There will be a free penguin education program inside the exhibit at 11:30 a.m. Evening activities include a free “Make and Take” penguin craft project sponsored by Scrapbooks Etc. and given to the first 200 people entering the zoo after 5 p.m.

Penguin Plunge, a temporary exhibit of African penguins in a replica of their South African beach habitat, will open to the public Thursday at the Topeka Zoo.

Omaha Zoo Introduces Five Baby Gentoos

January 20, 2010

Many people don’t know this, but my great, great grandfather Julius Meyer founded Omaha, Nebraska. Which is why I have a special affinity for the penguins at  the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.  This Friday the zoo introduced five adorable balls of fluff to the public. The Gentoo penguin chicks, born to four sets of parents, hatched between Dec. 10 and Dec. 21. They are more proof that the Omaha zoo’s breeding programs are among the best in the world. Since 1999, there have been 27 Gentoos successfully hatched at the zoo. The penguins are endearing creatures that can entertain visitors for hours. It’s no wonder the penguin display is one of the zoo’s most popular. The Gentoos make good parents, said Troy Solberg, a keeper at the Scott Aquarium. Mothers and fathers take turns sitting on the nest, feeding the chicks and standing guard.

The young penguins will gain between 10 and 15 percent of their body weight each day, eating a diet of herring, capelin and krill (little shrimp that Solberg calls “Doritos for penguins”).

They will be ready to leave the nest and begin swimming when they lose their down and get feathers – at between two and three months of age. The feathers are incredibly thick, 70 to 90 feathers per square inch, to provide insulation.

The Scott Aquarium’s penguin enclosure holds 86 penguins from four species: Gentoo, king, rockhopper and macaroni. They seem to get along for the most part, unless one shows too much interest in one of the nests. Then the parents make it clear the stray penguin, whatever its species, is not welcome.

The zoo also has two warm weather penguin species in displays outside the aquarium: the little blues and the African black footed penguins. That makes six of the 17 penguin species represented at the zoo, making it one of the largest mixed collections.

Adult Gentoos can weigh as much as 20 pounds, although most are in the 13 to 14 pound range, Solberg said. When they mate, they pretty much mate for life, and they will return to the same nest every year, he said.

It’s impossible to tell a Gentoo’s gender just by looking at one of them. When they get their feathers, keepers will pluck a feather from each to be sent to a testing site to determine sex. Only then will the chicks get names appropriate to their sex and personalities, Solberg said.

Gentoos mate, lay eggs and moult at the same time each year. The captive birds can’t tell changing seasons because the enclosure is kept at a steady 42 degrees. So the zoo changes the lighting to reflect seasonal light. Right now the lights are bright and the penguins, who are native to sub-Antarctic islands, think it’s summer.

Would they have liked being outdoors in last week’s extreme cold? Solberg says no. These penguins have become “hot house” penguins who are happy with temperatures in the 40s – a lot like humans.

A Gentoo penguin feeds one of two of his chicks in the Scott Aquarium at Henry Doorly Zoo on Friday afternoon. The zoo welcomed five Gentoo penguins, which were all hatched in December.