Monthly Archives: August 2008

Big success for Little Penguin project

A project to protect Little Penguins nesting along the Derwent Estuary is having positive results.

Numbers of breeding pairs have increased significantly since the project began four years ago.

Over the years the Derwent Estuary’s little penguin population has declined rapidly because of attacks by dogs and cats.

They have also suffered from the development of sea walls along a number of beaches which have stopped them getting to nesting grounds.

But a project to protect the penguins is having success.

Conservationists from the Department of Primary Industries and Water have been installing artificial burrows to provide a safe environment and monitor breeding patterns.

Four years ago there were only 90 breeding pairs.

There are now 190.



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ICHC: dis ur kid?

[via ICHC]

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Meet Kyoto

Cincinnati Zoo Announces Hatch of King Penguin

On July 30, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s king penguin chick hatched. Two week-old “Kyoto” becomes the 2nd successful king penguin ever to be hatched at the Cincinnati Zoo. The mother, Bebe, laid the egg on June 6 and shared incubation with the father, Larry, for the next 54 days.

Once the chick pipped, or broke through the shell, on July 28, the Zoo’s Aviculture staff transported the egg in a portable incubator to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s (CCHMC) Veterinary Services Lab for further evaluation. Dr. Gary L. Keller, Director of CCHMC Veterinary Services Division and R. Scott Dunn, CCHMC certified magnetic resonance (MR) technologist, used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to monitor the development of the king penguin embryo. This type of 3-D imaging is invaluable to the Cincinnati Zoo in the investigation of the incubation of king penguin eggs and the micro-climate needed in captivity.

After two hours in an open MRI chamber, the egg was transported back to the Zoo where it hatched two days later on July 30. The father, Larry will continue to brood and feed “Kyoto” for another week until the chick is transferred to a temperature-controlled chiller unit set at 55 Degrees F. inside the Zoo’s Nursery.Both the Nursery staff and Aviculture staff will share the hand-rearing duties, feeding Kyoto approximately every three hours six times a day. Since a chick would never be left alone, a plush penguin will be placed with the chick to simulate a parent, who would normally be in a burrow caring for its young. The presence of the plush also minimizes the chance of the chick imprinting on humans. At feeding time, keepers will place the plush penguin in front of the chick, who vocalizes—a signal for the parent to feed the chick.

The chick will receive (via a syringe) a “fish milkshake” that consists of ground fish, an electrolyte supplement, and vitamins. As the chick progresses in age and weight, the amount of formula it receives will be decreased and the amount of fish and the size of the fish it is fed will increase, until it is able to eat whole fish on its own.

Penguins have been studied for decades, allowing us to monitor the health of their ocean environment. Climate changes, particularly the effect these changes have on the oceans, are a leading factor in the decline of several penguin populations throughout the southern hemisphere. Other factors leading to death and low production of penguin offspring include oil pollution, over-fishing and the introduction of new species. Four species of penguins are facing the immediate threat of extinction. A majority of the seventeen penguin species have continued declined in numbers over the last 30 years. Continual monitoring and conservation efforts are needed in order to save these fascinating animals.

Currently there are approximately 2 million king penguins in the wild. Only 15 zoos in North America have king penguins and the Cincinnati Zoo’s Wings of the World exhibit .is now home to seven. They are one of the few penguin species that continue to do well in the wild. King penguins can be found throughout the southern hemisphere on sub-Antarctic islands. King penguins enjoying eating a variety of prey; however, they prefer small fish and squid. King penguins are the second largest penguin species, growing to be about 3 feet tall and weigh over 30 pounds.

Source: Cincinnati Zoo

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Jackass Penguin Swimming

Credit: Edgar Thissen at flickr


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Monitoring Penguins with Microchips

Penguins have been micro-chipped at the Kingscote rookery in the start of a 15-20 year plan to monitor their habits and gauge their movements to contribute to conservation efforts.

Department for Environment and Heritage supplied staff and equipment to help the Kingscote Marine Centre with the project, including flying in a research scientist from SARDI, Annelise Wiebkin.

Marine centre director John Ayliffe said the program would have to be over 20 years “to make sense”.

“Many of the chicks we are chipping will return in a couple of years to have their own young and we will be able to monitor mortality and return rates.”

He said hi-tech research at other animal colonies had included scanners which recorded when birds left and returned to their nests so that chicks could be assisted if parents failed to return.

“The penguins are valued at about $1500 each so it makes sense to understand as much about them as we can,” he said.

The project came about from the meetings between the operators of the state’s three main penguin rookeries open to tourists at Penneshaw, Kingscote and Granite Island. Birds have also been chipped at Penneshaw and Granite Island.

Mr Ayliffe said the DEH staff had been so committed to the project they had returned in their own time over a series of evenings to complete the micro-chipping of the older chicks, almost ready to fledge.

He said the monitoring would also help to fill in the gaps in knowledge about why NZ fur seals had started attacking the colonies.

Ms Wiebkin has applied for funding through the Caring for Country Open Grants scheme to continue the project.

Source: The Islander

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Dead Penguins Found Closer to Equator Than Ever Before

You’ve probably seen lots of articles out about the dead penguins that have washed ashore in Brazil. I’ve read some and I was holding off on posting until I had some more information than what the news reports have said. Today I got a link from National Geographic’s site about this tragedy.

It seems that it’s not that unusual to see washed up penguins, dead or alive, on these beaches. These Magellanic penguins are currently swimming out at sea to forage for food and sometimes they can be swept away by the strong ocean currents bringing them to shore as far north as Rio de Janeiro. However, it seems that this year there are a lot more have appeared. Scientists are attributing this to a strong cold front coming from Argentina. These penguins that arrive in this manner are already in a weakened state and their bodies are not equipped to handle tropical diseases and polluted waters, though most probably died from sheer exhaustion.

If an injured or sick penguin is found, it is wise to alert the proper authorities such as zoos or other similar institutions that are able to care for them. Some misinformed people have tried to take them home and place them in icy water, not knowing they prefer more temperate climates.

As of July 30th, workers in Bahia were treating 474 sick penguins while more than 400 were found along beaches in Rio de Janeiro. Those who do survive are taken south of the country by the Brazilian government so they can catch the proper currents back home.

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Dolphins and penguins claimed by storm

A dead dolphin washed up on Omaha Beach, and another dolphin was rescued at Castor Bay and released in quieter waters but subsequently died.

Penguins and other dead and injured marine life have also been found ashore.

That’s fairly common after a major storm, says Liz Maire of the Conservation Department in Warkworth.

Any injured or dead creatures should be left alone, she says.

People may feel a need to help the live birds.

But often they are simply exhausted from their efforts to ride out the storm – particularly penguins, which may have gone without food for several days – and are simply resting or are “on their way out”, she says.

Keep dogs away and, unless a creature is obviously hurt, leave it alone, she says.


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