Posts Tagged ‘penguin’

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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What’s Black & Black and Waddles?

February 9, 2016

The Penguin Post has learned that an all black penguin was spotted by wildlife watchers at Fortuna Bay on South Georgia, about 860 miles off the Falklands in the Atlantic.

After being shown the pictures by National Geographic magazine, Dr Allan Baker of the University of Toronto described them as ‘astonishing’.  ‘I’ve never ever seen that before,’ he said. ‘It’s a one in a zillion kind of mutation somewhere. The animal has lost control of its pigmentation patterns. Presumably it’s some kind of mutation.’

The photograph was taken by Andrew Evans, one of those who spotted the penguin among several thousand of its normal-colored counterparts. Observing this black penguin waddle across South Georgia’s black sand beach revealed no different behavior than that of his fellow penguins,’ he wrote on a National Geographic blog

‘In fact, he seemed to mix well. Regarding feeding and mating behavior there is no real way to tell, but I do know that we were all fascinated by his presence and wished him the best for the coming winter season.’ Because black penguins are particularly rare there has been very little research into them.

It is estimated that about one in every 250,000 penguins shows evidence of the condition – but few are as completely black as the penguin pictured here.

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It’s Penguin (Groundhog) Day!

February 2, 2016

Who you gonna believe a groundhog or the winter weather expert Penguin?  So welcome to Penguin (Groundhog) Day!  Since we all know that pretty much every day is Penguin Day, it just couldn’t be called “Penguin Day”, so as a reference to this new twist (waddle) to this annual prediction of early or late spring, Penguin (Groundhog) Day it is.   So if you really want to know when this Winter will be over, this morning a real penguin waddled out of his enclosure to forecast more winter or early spring on Galveston Island at Moody Gardens.  In groundhog fashion, this Aquarium Pyramid penguin saw his shadow this morning and made his prediction. The penguin then communicated with Greg Whittaker, Moody Gardens animal husbandry manager, who  translated the “Penguish” declaration into the human language.  To the delight of penguins everywhere. More Winter it is!

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Yes, he saw his shadow!

Walk Like A Penguin

January 28, 2016

We all know that walking on icy streets and sidewalks during the winter is treacherous. Wrist fractures, hip fractures, and strains and sprains are more common than ever during the winter. If you want some good strategies for preventing falls on the ice, walk like a penguin.

Keep your arms apart, your feet spread slightly, and take short, even shuffling steps. Place your foot flat, rather than hitting with the heel. Keep your center of gravity directly over your feet. You may look like a penguin, but how many penguins fall on the ice?

You are more likely to fall while getting in or out of your car, or coming inside and stepping on tile with wet shoes. Any outdoor slopes, however slight, increase fall risks.

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Once you’ve got the penguin shuffle down, here are important about when falls occur and how to prevent them.

  • Hold onto the car with two or three point contact until both feet are securely planted. Leave hand-carry items in the car until you are ready to shut the door. Avoid using your elbow to shut the door because it might be enough to throw you off balance. Set hand-carry items down first, get steady and then shut the door gently.
  • Avoid carrying heavy items over ice and snow. Take time to get a cart.
  • Carry purses and briefcases low and by your side. Keep your hands out of your pockets for better balance; it also provides a chance to either recover from a slip or brace for the impact.
  • Do not use a cell phone while walking on icy surfaces. Doing so raises and shifts the center of gravity and reduces focus. Stop in a safe location first before making a call.
  • Wear shoes with good traction, or better yet, don Microspikes or some other traction device. Footwear should fit properly, (not loose) and have low heels.
  • If you use a cane, consider getting a spike for the tip of your cane, so the cane does not slip, causing you to lose your footing.
  • Be sure to wipe shoes thoroughly when entering buildings with tile floors. Simply walking over carpet won’t dry shoes off immediately, especially near entrances where the carpet is wet or damp from outdoor traffic.

Pay attention, take your time and use traction enhancing devices to stay safe this winter. And remember, in icy conditions, penguins rule!

The Great Almost Penguin Escape

November 14, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned about the video shared by the Odense Zoo in Denmark of an ill fated attempted penguin escape that was foiled by the flightless birds’ own wet footprints on the concrete.

The video posted to YouTube by the Odense Zoo features a zookeeper holding a camera while following the wet footprints from the penguin enclosure down a corridor meant for zoo staff.

The zookeeper soon catches up to the five penguins as they make a mad dash for freedom.

The zoo compared the antics of the birds to those of their animated counterparts in the “Madagascar” series of films. The slippery escape artists come to a dead end in the corridor and turn around to run back toward their enclosure.

World’s Largest Penguin Collection

October 12, 2015

In other Guinness Book Of World Record news.  The Penguin Post has learned that Birgit Berends had amassed a collection of 11,062 different penguin-related items as of March 14, 2011. From Germany, she started her collection at the age of 18 when she was inspired by the animated series Pingu. Her very first penguin dates back to her days in elementary school, and a few of the penguins in her collection comes from us at the Penguin Gift Shop. 2012-Guinness-World-Record-Holders-Named-005

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.

Year Of The Penguin

October 9, 2015

There are all sorts of landmark years. This year marks The Year Of The Penguin as 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first penguin to be kept in Japan.

“Penguin Arrives” was the headline of an Asahi Shimbun article in June 1915 about the arrival of a Humboldt penguin at the Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo. But the subhead stated bluntly, “It is expected to die soon.”

Sure enough, the paper’s headline proclaimed nine days later, “Penguin Dead.” According to the article, the keepers had done everything in vain to care for the bird, giving it plenty of ice and lots of fresh fish. Native to Chile, Humboldt penguins normally tolerate heat well. But this particular bird had been transported over a long distance, which probably stressed it out. Also, the keepers were not experienced in handling a penguin.

A century has since passed, and Japan today is said to be the world’s No. 1 penguin keeper. As of 2012, there were about 3,600 penguins of 11 species at zoos around the nation, where they are noted crowd-pleasers.

In the wild, however, some species are declining in population. Among them is the Humboldt, which accounts for the largest number among species kept in Japan.

Another species that has undergone drastic depopulation is the African penguin, which inhabits the southwestern coast of Africa. And should global warming increase, the population of the statuesque Emperor penguin in Antarctica, standing more than 1 meter tall, is expected to shrink.

These exotic birds in “tail coats” were made known to the Japanese people by the Japanese antarctic expedition of 1910-1912, led by army Lt. Nobu Shirase. Photographs of penguins taken on the expedition survive today, and one team member was said to have penned this haiku: “It is so frigid, penguins dance on ice floes.”

Shirase referred to penguins as “extremely comical creatures” in his log. He probably did not know about their aquatic prowess. Emperor penguins have been recorded diving more than 600 meters–a feat no human could ever emulate.

Penguins are taken on walks through the snow at Asahiyama Zoo twice a day from December to March

Penguins are taken on walks through the snow at Asahiyama Zoo twice a day from December to March

Taking Penguin Protection Into Their Own Hands

September 16, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that in New Zealand in the small coastal town of Breaker Bay residents are taking no chances when it comes to their nesting penguins and have started a community of dog walkers to cut the risk of dogs attacking penguins.  Residents here have started a dog walking group and have nearly 30 members which is just about all the residents with dogs.

Dogs are also not allowed on the coastal walkway from Tarakena Bay to Moa Point as it is a penguin nesting area, and dogs are a threat to penguin populations.

The dog walkers group in the area are now self-managing the problem of over enthusiastic dogs around penguins and say they do not need help from outside groups such as Forest and Bird.

Local Forest and Bird Wellington branch committee member Ken New said the Places for Penguins program operates around the south coast to protect penguins from their two principal threats to Wellington area penguins, dogs and cars,” he said.

Wellington City councillor and Breaker Bay resident Ray Ahipene-Mercer takes Wiki, a stuffed female penguin, into schools to teach children about penguins.

Wellington City councelor and Breaker Bay resident Ray Ahipene-Mercer takes Wiki, a stuffed female penguin, into schools to teach children about penguins.

Wellington City councelor and Breaker Bay resident Ray Ahipene-Mercer said education was the most important tool for keeping the penguins safe. “In the last 20 years we’ve seen a great change from antipathy to protection. We have to maintain the momentum with the education and think about further creative ways of getting the message across,” he said. Ahipene-Mercer speaks to schools in the area about penguins and their nesting habits.

One of the most effective changes in the community was the installation of penguin crossing signs in 1990, he said. The signs were replaced this year after the originals had deteriorated in Breaker Bay’s wild weather. Nests built by local penguins constantly full and the population of the penguins had increased in recent years, Ahipene-Mercer said.

A Penguins Best Friend Turns Into Movie

September 15, 2015

Mass penguin attacks on Middle Island by wild foxes seemed a frequent ordeal for a penguin loving town near the island on the coast of Victoria, Australia – until a local farmer came up with a canine solution.

It seemed unlikely, but it worked.  Now the use of Maremma sheepdogs to guard the colony of penguins has become one of Warrnambool’s most unusual features and a world first in conservation practice.783707-dog

Warrnambool council manager and dog-handler Peter Abbott said the program began in 2006 after plummeting penguin counts. “It got to a point where the colony was about to be wiped out,” he said.

The small island is just a few hundred yards from the shore, wadeable for humans and, as the locals discovered, swimable for foxes.

However, while animal-lovers can visit the dogs at the town’s maritime village, fraternizing with the public is a controlled exercise. They need to remain working dogs to remain effective on the job, said Abbott.
“The dogs stay on the island through the penguin breeding season at summertime and they stay there overnight of course by themselves. And also make sure people don’t go to the island as well.” Penguin numbers have increased to about 180 after the Maremma project was launched.
The success of using the Italian breed has spurred a multi-million dollar movie to be made and named in honor of the first dog guardian named Oddball.

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“We went from about 800 penguins, down to just four.”

The current pair of patrol pooches, sisters named Eudy and Tula, live on Middle Island to guard the Little penguins from predators such as foxes and wild dogs.