Posts Tagged ‘Penguins’

New Penguin Center In Detroit

April 4, 2016

The Penguin Post has learned that the new Polk Penguin Conservation Center will be unveiled to the public on April 18 at the Detroit Zoo. The new home for the zoo’s 83 penguins is shaped like an iceberg and is “designed to set a new standard for penguin care and conservation worldwide”, according to the Zoo.


On top of the new look, the penguins will have ten times the amount of water: about 325,000 gallons of 37 – degree water. The aquatic areas will also allow the penguins to dive 25 feet below the surface, making the new center the deepest man-made penguin environment anywhere, as well as the largest penguin facility in the world.

Special events are planned for the opening of the center, including a sold-out, black tie, fundraising gala on April 9, called “An Evening in Antarctica.” There will also be a presentation from world-renowned polar ecologist and penguin expert Dr. Bill Fraser on April 10 at 6pm at the zoo’s Ford Education Center. Tickets can be purchased on the Detroit Zoo’s website and are $25.


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.


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.


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

Gone But Not Forgotten, The Penguins Of Silver Spring

October 7, 2015

Although the penguins of Silver Spring’s Metro station are still gone, The Penguin Post has learned that a Montgomery County official says residents can rest assured they haven’t been forgotten.

With last month’s opening of the Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center, some are wondering when the 100-foot-long “Penguin Rush Hour” mural will return. The mural, which shows penguins with briefcases and newspapers rushing around a Metro station on the way to work, was installed in the late 1980s along Georgia Avenue under the Metrorail overpass.  It was originally meant as a temporary art installation, but the penguins (for obvious reasons) became so popular that Metro agreed to keep it in place.

A close-up of the "Penguins Rush Hour" mural that used to be at the Silver Spring Metro station

A close-up of the “Penguins Rush Hour” mural that used to be at the Silver Spring Metro station

It was there until 2004, when after about 15 years of being out in the elements, parts of the mural were in dire need of restoration. Montgomery County promoted a “Pennies for Penguins” fundraising campaign that raised $30,000 for the effort. Sally Callmer Thompson, the artist who painted the mural on 25 plywood panels in her Bethesda home,restored it in 2006.

But with construction on the Transit Center anticipated next door, the county didn’t want to reinstall the mural right away, according to Silver Spring Regional Center Director Reemberto Rodriguez.  The Transit Center project finally finished in September, five years after it was scheduled to open.  Now folks want to know when the penguin mural, which is sitting in storage in the Silver Spring Civic Building, will finally reappear.

On Sept. 25, someone behind the parody “SS Transit Center” Twitter account tweeted “I was PROMISED PENGUINS. Where are my penguin friends?!?” Rodriguez said the mural will be installed in the same location, though the county still must figure out the logistics of making it happen.

“We’re committed to bringing them back out,” Rodriguez said Tuesday. “I can’t say whether it will be tomorrow, next week or the next month. But it’s really just a matter of going through with it and taking the steps to get them cleaned up.” Rodriguez said local arts organizations and the county’s Department of General Services, which led the Transit Center project before turning it over to Metro, will likely be involved. “I know we’ve had years to think this through,” Rodriguez said. “But we just don’t want to throw this out there. We’ll be working with other agencies and interests to make sure it happens.”

Penguin Monogamy and Separation

September 9, 2015

With its spiky head plumage and intense red eyes, the southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome, seen above) looks more like a punk guy with attitude than a committed monogamous penguin partner. But these males mate for life, reuniting with the same female year after year during mating season. Despite their monogamous mating patterns, however, the penguins really don’t spend much time together,  according to a new study. Using GPS trackers mounted to the penguins’ legs, scientists monitored 16 Rockhoppers from a colony in the Falkland Islands over the course of a mating season.

sn-penguins_2 The data show that males arrived at the nesting site approximately 6 days before their female counterparts and stayed about 6 days longer. However, the short mating season means the pairs are only united for about 20 days a year. And when they were separated, it was usually by a large distance: During the winter months, partners were separated by an average distance of about 400 miles, and one pair was observed as far as 1800 miles apart, the team reports online today in Biology Letters. Despite the large spatial segregation, their habitats were quite similar, ruling out the possibility that partners are spending the winter months apart because of sex-based differences in habitat or food preference. So why don’t the birds just stick together? So far it’s still a mystery, but the team speculates that if the penguins arrived at and left the nesting site at the same time, they’d be much more likely to spend the winter together. But because the females show up late and leave early, the problem of finding one another after a week of dispersing through the open ocean might not be worth it—it’s just easier to just meet back at the nesting site next year.

Penguin Pride Fire Hydrant Project at YSU

August 27, 2015

It has been 22 years since a little bit of red, white and black paint was used to transform 124 fire hydrants around the YSU (Youngstown State University) campus into an army of Pete and Penny Penguins. images-1

Now the Penguin Post has learned that the time has come to give the colony of penguins a makeover.

The idea to turn the hydrants into miniature versions of the YSU penguin mascots came from Bob Barko Jr., who back then was a senior graphic design student at Youngstown State University.

Barko responded to a challenge from former University President Dr. Leslie Cochran to paint the hydrants with designs that would show off Penguin Pride.

In 2002, Barko returned to campus to repaint a batch of hydrants on the campus core and on the surrounding streets.

Since then, more than a decade has passed and the little Pete and Penny the Penguins are in need of a new coat of paint.


In late May, Barko received a call from the University asking if he was interested in repainting the hydrants.

Barko accepted the commission and between now and the end of September, he plans to give 84 hydrants around the area of the stadium a fresh look.

Barko said each hydrant takes approximately two hours to paint although he usually works in stages on multiple hydrants during a work session, applying a base coat then a color coat and finally a detail coat to each hydrant.

Go Penguins!

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

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.

It Appears Penguins Have No Taste

February 20, 2015

PENGUINS are among the world’s most dedicated seafood eaters. But they can’t taste fish, biologists have discovered. The Penguin Post has learned that Chinese and American researchers have found that the flightless birds have only two of the five basic tastes — salty and sour — after losing the capacity to detect sweet, bitter and “umami” or savoury flavours.

Jianzhi Zhang, a genomic evolutionist at the University of Michigan, said the results were surprising. “Penguins eat fish, so you would guess they need the umami receptor genes,” he said. The discovery, revealed in the journal Current Biology, adds to the taste limitations known to bedevil some of the world’s most loved and loathed creatures. “Whales and dolphins have lost all tastes except salty,” Professor Zhang told The Australian. “Vampire bats have lost sweet and umami tastes.”

Adelie penguins and their water-going cousins can’t taste their prey’s fishy flavour, scientists have found.

Adelie penguins and their water-going cousins can’t taste their prey’s fishy flavor, scientists have found.

Birds also lack receptors for sweet flavors, even though many eat fruit and nectar. Scientists believe birds lost the T1R2 gene — which is crucial for tasting sugar — sometime during or after their evolution from meat-eating dinosaurs. The latest study found that receptors for detecting bitter and savory tastes were also missing from the genomes of Adelie and emperor penguins. Subsequent research revealed the other 15 penguin species also lacked these genes.

The researchers believe another key gene, known as TRPM5, may have effectively been frozen out of the genome of living penguins’ most recent common ancestor during an evolutionary stint in Antarctica. TRPM5 is “temperature-sensitive” and doesn’t function properly when things “get really cold”, the journal reported. While some penguins now inhabit warmer latitudes, all penguin species trace their roots to the frozen continent. But the study has raised a chicken-and-egg question, with the researchers unsure if penguins swallow fish whole because they can’t taste them, or vice-versa. Anatomical studies have found that penguins’ tongues are covered by a thick layer rather than taste buds, suggesting they’re used to catch food rather than taste it. “Their tongue structure and function suggest that penguins need no taste perception,” Professor Zhang said. “It is unclear whether these traits are a cause or a consequence of major taste loss.

Penguins Can Fly!

December 5, 2014

According to the USPS December 9th is the deadline to get international packages out via air mail to Europe, Canada and Asia that will arrive by Christmas.  The deadline for Africa, Central and South America was December 2nd.104111-penguins-lovers-flying-penguin