Thursday, December 28, 2006

A look at the lives of the world's best-dressed animals - penguins!

Real penguins don't have time for dancing and singing.

So what would life be like for a real-life Mumble the Penguin, the star of the recent movie "Happy Feet"?

"The real emperor penguins live in the harshest of environments, and although they are in many ways marvelously adapted to surviving there, they still do have it tough, particularly the young ones," said Barbara Wienecke, an Australian scientist who has been fascinated by penguins all her life.

Finding food, staying warm and raising families - none of these is easy for penguins.

It doesn't take singing or dancing, but finding a mate is hard work, too. Emperor penguins go courting by calling (they make a trumpet-like sound), head circling and bowing, said Tom Schneider, curator of birds at the Detroit Zoo.

Once a pair clicks, they take great care of their chicks.

"Very young chicks, when they are still being brooded, or guarded by their parents, can have an air of contentment about them when they are warm and well-fed and the sun is shining," Wienecke said. "It is absolutely beautiful to see the little guys with full tummies lean back against mum or dad, eyes half closed, little toes lifted off the ice and occasionally glancing up to make sure that mum or dad are still there."

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