Posts Tagged ‘Rockhopper penguins’

It’s A Rockin Hopper Boy

September 11, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that the gender of the Shedd Aquarium’s newest addition, a baby rockhopper penguin that hatched in June, has been determined and it’s a…boy.Rockhopper-Penguin-Chick_2-300x200

Animal care staff at the Shedd confirmed that Chick No. 23, as he is still known, is a male through a genetic test conducted during a recent check-up, according to a statement from the aqaurium, since there are no observable sex differences in rockhopper penguins.

The chick hatched June 9, and has already nearly reached his full adult height of about 18 inches, according to the aquarium staff. He currently weighs about 4.5 pounds, up from 2 ounces when he hatched.

The penguin chick has been exploring his habitat on his own, learning to swim by himself, and accepting food from trainers after being fully weaned from his parents, and now that his gender has been determined he should be named soon (as chick #23 is not really a cool name).

Rockhopper penguins are considered a vulnerable species. The Shedd is currently home to more than 30 and has been part of a breeding program since 1991.


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.

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.


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.

Robot Penguins Spy Cams!

November 26, 2013

A penguin couple attempting to stage a “chick-napping” after losing their own baby. Another penguin flipping its tail under to keep its egg from freezing. A hungry predator that thought it had picked up dinner instead inadvertently became the first bird to capture an aerial-view shot.

The Penguin Post has learned that these are just some of the incredibly rare penguin moments caught on cameras filmmakers hid inside life-sized animatronic penguins and then placed among colonies of the real marine birds. There are 17 species of penguin worldwide and these robots look and move like the real thing.

“They have cameras in their eyes and they can get really close to the animals, the penguins, and they can get these kinds of shots that are really in the penguins works and also capture extraordinary behavior,” producer-director John Downer said.

Downer, with producer Phillip Dalton, used the spy-cam embeds to capture unprecedented footage for their new documentary, “Penguins: Waddle All the Way,” which premieres on the Discovery Channel Saturday 9 p.m. ET.

“The cameras actually caught the moment the egg came round and you saw the tail flip round protecting the egg, saved it from the ice,” Downer said. “You know it was a moment that you wouldn’t have seen any other way.”HT_penguin_robot_1_sr_131120_16x9_608

Downer and his team deployed 50 of these cameras, which were also placed inside fake penguin eggs rocks and ice formations.

The cameras caught emperor penguins as they took the treacherous 60-mile journey to their breeding grounds, rockhoppers as they bobbed and weaved their way through snapping sea lions, and Humboldts as they tried to evade vampire bats. They even captured moments of jealousy.

“The rockhoppers up in the colony, they were waiting for their females to return and most of them had, except for one individual that was quite lonely, and so he turned his eye on our robot and they very quickly bonded,” Dalton said. “But he was caught in the act, the female did return and she wasn’t very happy.”


Indeed, Dalton said, the angry female knocked the animatronic penguin to the ground.

Through these spy cams, the birds were seen slipping, sliding, and stumbling their way through a course of seemingly endless challenges on their annual pilgrimage to the harshest of destinations, all in hopes of creating new life.

“They reflect a lot of our lives,” Dalton said. “They would survive all the knocks in life, get back up, and just keep going.”

Penguins Of Detroit

September 20, 2013

Detroit is known to be the home of Tigers and Lions (think baseball and football), but now the Penguin Post has learned that the Detroit Zoo will be home to the largest center in the U.S. dedicated to penguins, thanks to the most substantial private donation in its 85-year history, the zoo announced Wednesday.

Construction on the $21 million facility will begin “in earnest” in March and is expected to open in late 2015, said Ron Kagan, the zoo’s executive director and CEO. “We don’t think there is anything comparable,” Kagan said at a news event that featured a 3-D film and “snow” that fell on attendees. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest … facility that is entirely dedicated to penguins.”

The 24,000-square-foot center is being made possible, in part, by the biggest private donation in the zoo’s history, $10 million given by Stephen Polk and his family. Polk is vice chair of the zoo’s board and a longtime executive with automotive information provider R.L. Polk & Co. The facility will carry the name The Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center. Kagan said the zoo still needs to raise $8 million to reach the $21 million total.

The exterior of the center will look like an iceberg. Inside, visitors will have the opportunity to see the seabirds “deep dive” in a chilled 310,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area. It is something that can’t be seen anywhere else, even in nature, the zoo said. “Penguins will literally be doing laps around us,” said Kagan, who took several research trips to Antarctica, including this past January. The feature is deeper and larger than the pool at the Arctic Ring of Life, one of the zoo’s main attractions in which polar bears swim above visitors. The center, which will be home to 80 penguins of four species — rockhopper, macaroni, king and gentoo — is to be built on a 2.1-acre site near the entrance to the zoo, which is in suburban Royal Oak. Officials said the penguins’ habitat will be optimal for the animals’ welfare and encourage wild behavior, including diving, nesting and rearing young. The facility also will feature simulated Antarctic blasts, rough waves and snow. It has been in the planning and design phase for two years and represents the largest project the zoo has ever undertaken. Kagan said it is fitting that the center will be at the Detroit Zoo, “which in the mid-’60s created the first Penguinarium of any zoo anywhere.”

The Penguin Conservation Center was designed by Jones & Jones, the architects behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life.

In this artists rendering provided by the Detroit Zoological Society is The Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center

In this artists rendering provided by the Detroit Zoological Society is future Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center


Edinburgh’s Penguins Returning

March 15, 2013

The Penguin Post has learned that the Edinburgh Zoo’s new penguin enclosure is set to reopen to the public following a $900,000 revamp. The outdoor pool, called Penguins Rock, offers improved viewing areas for people visiting one of the zoo’s most popular species. For the penguins themselves, the attraction has mock sandy beaches and rocky areas, a waterfall feature, a water shoot and a diving board made out of carved rock. The development also includes a “state-of-the-art” filtration system for the 1.2m litres of water it holds.

Colin Oulton, team leader for birds at the zoo, said: “The new enclosure is a wonderful addition to our visitor attraction and perfect for our penguins. “The birds, both returning and new, have settled in very quickly to the Penguins Rock. “In fact, breeding season will shortly be here and many of our returning birds are already claiming their favorite nesting spots.” Bosses said the existing pool had served the zoo’s large colony of penguins well for more than 20 years but it was starting to need some work behind the scenes, so it made sense to combine it with a visual overhaul.

Darren McGarry, head of living collections, said the animals have been getting used to their refurbished enclosure in recent weeks. “Our penguins have been reintroduced back into their home over the last few weeks, with the 28 gentoos and 27 rockhoppers that remained at Edinburgh Zoo going in first,” he said. “It was a pleasure to see the birds start to interact with the new features of their enclosure – trying out the water slide and sticking their beaks into their new waterfall. The waterfall has actually proved to be a real hit with the gentoo’s. “Next, a week later, came gentoo birds that had been staying in Belfast and Denmark, and there was lots of calling out as birds definitely recognized old friends. “As well as old faces returning, we also welcome a mix of new one and two-year-old gentoos to Edinburgh Zoo as it is important to keep genetic diversity within populations.

“We are really looking forward to see the reactions of our visitors as they see our new enclosure and see our famous black and white birds enjoy all its new features, the mock sandy beach, the clear aqua blue water and creative bird themed interpretation, to name just a few of exciting changes. “However, it is the opportunity to feel so close to the birds due to the new lowered sightlines, and glass barriers and wood perimeters, that we particularly hope people will be thrilled with.” The new enclosure opens to the public on Thursday.

Gentoo Penguin at The Edinburgh Zoo

Gentoo Penguin at The Edinburgh Zoo

Penguin In A Strange Land

February 28, 2013

The Penguin Post has learned about the story of an adventurous Rockhopper penguin who got lost on the way to the Antarctic and ended up in sunny Alexandra, New Zealand. True story -there really was a penguin in Central Otago, about as far from the coast as it’s possible to get in this country. Central Vets Ltd senior small animal veterinarian, Sue Robb, operated on the 6-month-old injured rockhopper at the Alexandra clinic last week and its arrival caused quite a stir.

”The staff all came and had a look at it – it’s the closest most of them have ever been to a penguin,” Ms Robb said. It was found on a North Otago beach about a month ago with an injured foot, Katiki Point Charitable Trust honorary ranger Rosalie Goldsworthy said. She runs a penguin hospital at the point, near the Moeraki lighthouse, and the rockhopper ended up in her care. ”It was injured at sea. Some creature tried to kill it and got it by the foot – there were big tooth-marks around its ankle.”

It was very unusual to find rockhoppers on our shores and they were rarer than other crested penguins, Mrs Goldsworthy said. The nearest breeding site was Macquarie Island, halfway between New Zealand and the Antarctic. She and Ms Robb have been friends for about 15 years and have worked together on wildlife before, so she asked for the vet’s advice. ”Here I usually deal with companion animals – cats and dogs – but in the past I’ve operated on penguins and other wildlife, and on all kinds of birds from a pukeko through to a sulphur-crested cockatoo,” Ms Robb said.

The operation to remove the penguin’s foot took about 20 minutes and no special equipment was needed, although ”we did turn up the air-conditioning so it wasn’t too warm”. She saw treating wildlife as her ”social responsibility” and said there was no charge for the operation or care of the bird. ” I love the idea of being able to treat a rare bird like this and have it return to the wild,” Ms Robb said. The penguin is recuperating well back at the penguin hospital and was standing up on its stump, and balancing well, shortly after the operation, Mrs Goldsworthy said.

”It’s very special and has a lovely nature – not aggressive, but it is assertive. If it doesn’t like something, it’ll let you know.” ”Sue says it will take about a month to heal and then it’ll be heading south for its next adventure. I have every faith it will get back to Antarctica.” Penguins use their wings for propulsion through the water and their feet as rudders and it was already adapting to with changes to its stance. ”You can tell when they’re getting better – they get grumpy and start to jump against the pen when they’re ready to leave,” she said. The trust is a charity and relies on donations to fund its work. There are 13 penguins of four different species in the hospital.

Alexandra veterinarian Sue Robb with the injured rockhopper penguin after operating on it last week. The bird is recovering well and should be released to head back to the Antarctic next month.

Alexandra veterinarian Sue Robb with the injured rockhopper penguin after operating on it last week. The bird is recovering well and should be released to head back to the Antarctic next month.

The Case Of The Disappearing Penguins

June 13, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that New Zealand scientists are preparing a study to solve one of nature’s great mysteries, the disappearance of a rapidly dwindling breed of penguin every winter.  Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are being funded by the U.S.-based National Geographic to discover where the missing rockhopper penguins go in winter.  A team of scientists will travel to the penguins’ breeding ground in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Campbell Island to attach 88 miniaturized tracking tags to penguins’ legs next year.  “We don’t know where the penguins go during winter,” said NIWA scientist David Thompson.  “It could be a crucial stage in the breeding cycle for them. To successfully raise chicks, they need to come back to Campbell Island at the start of the breeding season in good condition,” he said.  “If they have a bad winter, they will come back to Campbell Island in poor condition. This stage of the annual cycle of the birds is likely to be very significant. To know nothing about where this stage takes place is a crucial gap in our understanding of the factors affecting the penguin populations.”  From 1942 to 1985, the Rockhopper penguin population at Campbell Island declined from about 800,000 breeding pairs to just 51,000 pairs, and the decline had continued since.  “They are unlikely to become extinct in the near future, but this represents a massive decline,” said Thompson.  The data obtained from the tags would shed light on the winter movements, distribution and habitat use of Rockhopper penguins.
“I wouldn’t think they go too far, they clearly can”t fly, however they can swim pretty fast,” said Thompson.  “They leave Campbell Island in April, and don”t reappear until early October. That gives them a few months to go exploring. I suspect they don”t go too far south, nor are they likely to go too far north. They probably stay at the same latitude, but disperse away from the island, spending that time feeding and regaining condition.”  Diminished food stocks probably caused the falling population, he said. “They eat little krill, crustaceans, juvenile and small fish and small squid. They have quite a broad diet. It”s thought that fluctuations in sea temperatures may have led to a reduction in the abundance or availability of their prey,” said Thompson.

Seaworld’s Ultimate Penguin Experience

April 26, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned of new details of what may be the ultimate penguin experience (outside of a trip to Antarctica) by SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida regarding the park’s upcoming 2013 much anticipated new attraction, Antartica – Empire of the Penguin.  The penguin-centric ride will utilize new technology that will allow the guests to experience the ride differently from visit to visit.  Guests will also be allowed to choose the thrill level they wish to experience as each car seats eight people who can decide as a group which level they’d prefer.  Also, as part of the ride a new SeaWorld star will be introduced – a young Gentoo penguin who will serve as the ride’s guide.  No word as to the technology that will allow that to happen. The attraction will immerse guests in an incredible penguin experience with various species including: Gentoos, Rockhoppers, Adelies and Kings.  Designers have yet to reveal how close guests will get to the penguins, but the penguins’ habitat must stay in the low 30 degrees for their comfort, so you may want to bring a jacket. With the habitat kept at that temperature, Antartica – Empire of the Penguin will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world. Or the coolest to say the least.

All we can say is...Wow!