Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Zoo’

Young Penguin Quartet

June 3, 2012

The Penguin Post has been informed that a quartet of Magellanic penguin chicks have hatched this breeding season at the San Francisco Zoo, and will be on display until the end of June when they’ll head off to “Fish School,” zoo officials said. At Fish School, the penguins will learn to swim and be hand fed by zookeepers, one way for zoo staff to monitor the health of the penguin chicks. The penguins will return to their colony on Penguin Island at the end of July. The zoo’s Magellanic penguin colony is the largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins in any zoo or aquarium accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to zoo officials. Magellanic penguins are named because they are native to the Straight of Magellan in southern Chile, but can also be found in coastal Argentina, the Falkland Islands and even Brazil. When the chicks grow up, they could be as tall as thirty inches and weigh over 14 pounds. In the wild they feed on cuttlefish, sardines, squid, krill and other crustaceans. Magellanic penguins mate with the same partner every year, when the male reclaims the same burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his former partner. The female recognizes the male from his call. One chick that hatched on May 20 was born to penguin couple Bruno and Rizzo who were also born in the San Francisco Zoo.

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A Giant Penguin

August 2, 2011

They may not be giants, but there seems to be a Giants theme at the San Francisco Zoo as Giants catcher Buster Posey now has his own namesake at the zoo – an outgoing Magellanic penguin with a cute waddle. That Posey was a girl penguin didn’t seem to be a problem for the hundreds of zoo visitors who turned out to see her and the zoo’s four other young penguins rejoin their colony Saturday. They had spent the last month or so in school, becoming used to their keepers while getting ready to swim. Dressed appropriately in their natural formal wear, the five classmates made the annual march through a crowd of human well-wishers to mark their official graduation from fish school. As Posey dived into the penguin pool, she officially joined a zoo family that also includes Giants namesakes Brian Wilson the (clean shaven) hippo and Lincecum the howler monkey, also a girl. Her name was chosen in a random drawing from suggestions submitted by zoo members Saturday morning.

The annual March of the Penguins is a huge draw for the zoo, which has the largest captive Magellanic colony in the world with 49 of the black and white birds. They are “world-famous penguins,” said Anthony Brown, the primary penguin keeper. The newest members were hatched on Penguin Island and spent their first four to six weeks with their parents. Still unable to swim – and with their parents increasingly leaving them alone – they were then taken off to fish school to keep them safe, said Brown, who can tell every one of the 49 penguins apart. “That’s Mona,” he said, pointing to a penguin 20 feet away that looked to a visitor exactly like all the other penguins. Nearby swam Sparkles, appropriately named given her prima donna attitude, Brown said. “All animals have individual personalities,” the keeper said. “These guys take it to a whole other level.” Posey, for example, is an outgoing girl who loves to hang out with people. One of her classmates, Ludwig, is also an extrovert, while the other three still-unnamed penguins are a bit more shy. Zoo volunteer Adriana Thumm was among the humans who helped socialize the new penguins in fish school – a job that required a background check and some seniority, said the 34-year-old native San Franciscan. She watched with pride as they waddled without fear through the crowd and into their pool. Thumm spent about three hours total sitting with the penguins, who cuddled and climbed on her. “They’re a little smelly,” she said. “But it’s totally worth it. You just don’t make plans to go out after. “The zoo added the penguin colony to its exhibits in 1984, starting with 69 Magellanic birds, which are considered a near-threatened species, Brown said. Since then, 200 more have hatched, with some sent to zoos around the world. The colony has made international headlines over the years, most recently for the split of two gay penguins caught in a love triangle with a female widow. While the nearby rhino is nice and the gorilla is a big draw for others, the penguins have always been Dylan Buren’s favorite. Dylan, who has been coming to the zoo with his family at least a few times a year since he was born, said he always stops by to hang out and watch the birds, although he wasn’t quite sure why he loved them the most. “I like the water too,” the Sonoma County teen said finally. As zoo members, Dylan, his parents and brother Tyler were allowed in the gates early Saturday to watch the March of the Penguins – the perfect way to spend Dylan’s 13th birthday. Attendees could enter a naming contest for the female penguin, with the winner chosen at random. With each Buren decked out head to toe in Giants gear, the family came up with their pick in the car Saturday morning. Posey. “I don’t believe we won,” said mom Kristy Buren. “We never win anything.” For nearly an hour after the graduation ceremony ended, Dylan stood at the penguin pool rails watching the birds glide through the water and waddle out onto their island for fish. Every now and then he would spot his penguin Posey, who stood out with her all-black armband. He noted that she needed a little orange to go with her black and white tux. Nonetheless, Posey the penguin was, “the best birthday present ever.”

Posey leads his mates at the S.F. Zoo

Penguin Love Triangle in S.F. Zoo Waddles On

April 27, 2010

A penguin at the San Francisco Zoo won’t be wearing a wedding tuxedo anytime soon — he’s still looking for his true love.

It may have been International Penguin Day for humans, but for Pepper, a single and sad Magellanic Penguin at the San Francisco Zoo hasn’t been in the holiday spirit lately and he has not found did love this breeding season.

Since being dumped last year  by his long-term, same-sex partner Harry — for of all things a girl penguin named Linda, Pepper has simply not been himself.

To make matters more dramatic this year, zookeepers are now seeing signs of tension between Pepper and the now coupled off Harry and Linda, and  they’re  worried that Pepper has been keeping to much by himself instead of making friends like the other single penguins.

Pepper and Harry and been together since adolescence and raised an abandoned egg together. But now, Harry and Linda are incubating an egg, leaving Pepper out  (as they say in the world of penguin love) in the cold.

Harry (left) and Linda waddling and frolicing at the S.F. Zoo.