Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fat Little Fairies

The Penguin Parade at Phillip Island, just outside Melbourne, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Australia and visited each year by half a million people. The phenomenon at Phillip Island has made Australia's Fairy Penguin Eudyptula minor famous all around the world. What is less well known is that these penguins can still be found in many other places in southern coastal Australia.

A hundred years ago, penguins were a common sight along southern mainland Australia. Today, however, human development, feral animals and traffic have forced most penguins to retreat to islands off the coast where they are relatively safe.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Humboldt penguins: Spheniscus humboldti

The Italian naturalist Antonio Raymondi once visited the Islas Chincha in Central Peru, in the middle of the 1800s. He was amused to find "hundred of thousands" Humboldt penguins breeding in burrows dug by themselves in the guano deposits. By that time, the Peruvian Government allowed to some European countries to harvest the guano (bird drops used as a rich soil fertilizer) as a mean of external debt payment. Guano was mined from the islands with adverse effects not only on birds that produced it (cormorants, boobies and pelicans), but also on seabirds that depended upon it. Humboldt penguins were maybe one of the most affected as they use the guano for building their burrows and because they do not fly, becoming easy target for guano workers. If you visit the Islas Chincha now, you will only sight some scattered groups of penguins in small islets. Penguin numbers on these islands does not exceed 100 birds.

Penguin Population Plummets Due to Overfishing
Humboldt Penguins that breed along the desert coast of Peru and Chile are in trouble. Once numbering over 20 million birds, the species is now one-tenth its former size due to overfishing in the region.

Brookfield Zoo Humboldt Penguins
The Brookfield Zoo, together with the St. Louis Zoo and the Philadelphia Zoo, has a flourishing Humboldt captive-breeding program, and are helping to monitor the penguin population in the wild.

The Emperor Penguin : Aptenodytes forsteri

The Emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri is one of only two species of penguin that inhabit the Antarctic continent: Adelie penguins breed there in summer, while Emperors breed in winter.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Conservation Group Seeks Protection From Effects of Global Warming

The Center for Biological Diversity, (Center), a non profit conservation organization, filed a formal petition today requesting that 12 species of penguins worldwide, including the well known Emperor Penguin, be added to the list of threatened and endangered species under the United States Endangered Species Act. Reasons cited are a number of threats including global warming.

Abnormally warm ocean temperatures along with diminished sea ice have wrecked havoc on penguin food availability in recent decades. Less food has led to population declines in penguin species ranging from the Southern Rockhopper and Humboldt penguins of the islands off South America, and the African Penguin in southern Africa, to the Emperor Penguin in Antarctica. The ocean conditions causing these declines have been linked by scientists to global warming and are projected to intensify in the coming decades.

The Worst Journey in the World

Excited by the discovery of emperor penguins during Scott's 1901-04 Discovery expedition to the Antarctic, zoologist Edward A Wilson wanted to return to Cape Crozier during the birds' winter breeding season to collect their eggs. Darwin's theory of evolution had been published in 1859, and the hypothesis was that the embryos in the eggs might shed light on the evolutionary link between reptiles and birds.

Wilson returned with Scott on his second expedition, Terra Nova, and on 27 June 1911 - just after mid-winter - he set out on his egg hunt with Henry Robertson 'Birdie' Bowers and Apsley George Benet Cherry-Garrard, who was later to write of this journey as 'the worst journey in the world'.

Monday, November 27, 2006

P-p-p-protect a p-p-penguin

Penguins have a lot to contend with. Ice. No ice. Snow. Storms. Oil spills. Help protect penguins and their habitats. And for those who want to take their devotion to penguins further, we can supply a pattern so you can knit a jolly jacket to keep a penguin snug after oil spillage.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Penguin Sweaters

Oil spills are some of the most challenging environmental disasters. These toxic spills pollute the ocean, often injuring and killing animals who live there. Birds and mammals need to be captured, cleaned, and given medical treatment to have a chance of survival. Rescue workers must act quickly—and sometimes creatively.

Rescue workers at the Phillip Island Nature Park tried different ways to keep the penguins warm and to stop them from swallowing the deadly oil. Dressing the penguins in doll sweaters proved to be the most successful technique.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Penguin egg, and Penguin FAQ

An Adelie penguin's egg hatching. See the beak of the baby penguin beginning to break the shell open ?

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about penguins.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Penguin-inspired breaks in New Zealand and Australia

Penguins will be making a big impact this Christmas, thanks to a new animated adventure set to grab the nation's attention.

With this in mind, travel website Isango has come up with its top penguin-inspired breaks in Australia and New Zealand.

Penguin Place on the Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
Unique to New Zealand, yellow-eyed penguins have their own special reservation on the Otago Peninsula on the South Island's south-east coast.

Penguins on Parade, Philip Island, Australia
Emerging from the sea around sunset, these "fairy penguins" can be seen waddling up Summerland Beach to their burrows. Elevated boardwalks and special viewing areas give holidaymakers a great chance to witness the penguins first-hand.

Video: Shopping Penguin

Lala, a 14-year old King Penguin, goes shopping at the local fish store with his own little backpack.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Video: "Happy Feet" Trailer

Happy Feet is a comedy adventure set in the land of the Emperor Penguins in the heart of Antarctica. These penguins sing, and each needs their own special song to attract a soul mate. Our hero Mumble (ELIJAH WOOD), son of Elvis (HUGH JACKMAN) and Norma Jean (NICOLE KIDMAN) is the worst singer in the world… but he can tap-dance something fierce!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Video: Adelie Penguins' "Rocky" Parenting

They don't make an arduous 50-mile (80-kilometer) march like their "movie star" neighbors. But that doesn't mean Adélie penguins have it easy when to comes to breeding.

In my blue splayed shoes

Elvis and 16 other little blues who arrived at the International Antarctic Centre in September have been given specially designed shoes after several penguins developed sore feet in their new home.

Brought from Napier's Marineland to take centre stage at the Antarctic Centre's Penguin Encounter display, the penguins are "second-chance" birds. Many have disabilities due to injuries.

Antarctic Centre director Richard Benton said some of the penguins had developed sore feet, which had proved "tricky" to treat.

Veterinarian Pauline Howard had suggested rubber shoes.

Rescued penguins hatch chicks

A pair of penguins that survived a truck crash in East Texas have hatched a chick at the aquarium at Moody Gardens.

The baby penguin was born Nov. 12, an aquarium spokeswoman said. It is the first of eight chicks expected to hatch in the coming weeks from the penguins relocated this summer from the Indianapolis Zoo to Moody Gardens.

Penguins get a helping home

A South African program provides fiberglass 'igloos' to protect the nests of endangered African penguins – and the birds love their new homes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Flap over a tale of gay penguins

It was a love story that touched the heart of New Yorkers. Two gay penguins at Central Park Zoo who - after trying unsuccessfully to hatch a rock - were given a fertilised egg and raised their own little chick called Tango.

The tale of Roy and Silo was even made into a children's book called And Tango Makes Three. But, while liberal Manhattanites may have sighed at the sweetness of it all, not every American seems quite so pleased. The book has caused controversy in a number of small towns in the American heartland, where teachers and parents have complained that it is not suitable for children.

Movie Review: Happy Feet

Happy Feet is the story of Mumble. He is a little different than the other Emperor penguins. You see, Mumble can't sing. At the core of the society is the heartsong, the song that each penguin finds inside him or herself that they use to attract a mate. Rather than song, Mumble's heart is expressed through dance, and boy, can he dance. Unfortunately, his lack of singing ability proves to be an embarrassment to his father and he finds himself ostracized from society. To top things off, there is a shortage of fish, and Mumble's differences lead him to be blamed for this lack of food.

What follows Mumble's exile is an epic journey, a journey to find himself, find the food, and win the heart of the penguin he loves.

Spheniscidae - Penguins

This site is a great resource for information about penguins.

There are 17 species of penguin all of which have a southerly distribution ranging from the Antarctic itself to the Galapagos Islands. Only two species, Emperor and Adelie, have entirely Antarctic distributions. The rest live more northerly lives to varying degrees, 5 species being sub-antarctic, 6 southern temperate and 4 sub-tropical. Though one species, the Galapagos Penguin (currently the rarest species), lives in the equatorial band it is protected to some extent form the heat by the cold Antarctic currents which bath the islands. No species has crossed the warm tropical waters to colonise the northern hemisphere. Penguins are highly adapted to marine life and some species spend up to 80% of their life at sea.