King Penguin Chick at SeaWorld Orlando

Two-week old king penguin chick at SeaWorld Orlando.

Two-week old king penguin chick at SeaWorld Orlando. Photo by SeaWorld Orlando.

On November 30, SeaWorld Orlando welcomed the first chick to hatch at their new attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. The two-week old king penguin chick weighs 882 grams (30 oz.). It is being cared for by its parents with routine checkups from SeaWorld Orlando staff. The little chick will grow to more than 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) and over 2.5 feet tall.

Like emperor penguins, king penguins do not build nests. Instead the mother and father take turns incubating the egg under their belly on top of their feet.

Learn more at the SeaWorld Orlando website.

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African Penguin Gets Custom Wetsuit

Penguin in wetsuit

Photo by Abigail Pheiffer

At the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT, a 14-year-old penguin named Yellow Pink molted his waterproof feathers last year. They never grew back. Without the waterproof feathers, swimming became uncomfortable for the penguin.

Fortunately, a team of veterinarians, trainers, and research staff made him a custom neoprene wetsuit out of an old aquarium diving suit. Now Yellow Pink can stay warm as as swims.

Watch a video of Yellow Pink swimming in his suit below:

For more information about Yellow Pink, visit the Mystic Aquarium website or find them on Facebook.

Learn more about African penguins on our African Penguin Facts Page.

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Young Zoo Visitor Saves Penguin Egg

On April 3rd, a baby Humboldt penguin hatched at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. But as the bird was hatching, a young visitor, around 7-8 years old, spotted a second egg exposed on a cliff within an exhibit. The egg was in danger of being knocked off the cliff or being eaten by a crow or seagull. He informed a zookeeper, who then rushed the egg to a pair of foster parents. The little penguin hatched two days later.

The zoo would like to properly thank the boy for saving the baby penguin.  They ask that you email if you know the identity of the young hero.

Penguin chick at the Woodland Park Zoo

Penguin chick at the Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the wild, Humboldt penguins live along the coast of Peru and Chile.  They are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN Redlist.  Threats include fishing nets, illegal pet trade, over-exploitation of guano (which the penguins use for nesting), and pollution.

For more info about the Humboldt penguin chicks, see the Woodland Park Zoo blog.

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Penguin Cam

Free desktop streaming application by Ustream

Watch African penguins at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco LIVE via three webcams.

The birds are especially active during these DAILY feeding times:
10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET
3:00pm PT / 6:00pm ET

For more information, see:

Learn more about African penguins, aka jackass penguins, on Animal Fact Guide.

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Disabled Penguin Receives Custom Boot

Lucky is a Humboldt penguin born at the Santa Barbara Zoo in April 2010.  As he grew up, zoo keepers noticed that he walked with a limp.  Further testing showed that his leg was not developing properly.  If not helped, he would eventually suffer from infections from the sores on his feet.  Teva, a sponsor of the zoo, was called in to help.  The footwear company custom created a boot that would assist Lucky when walking and swimming.

Watch the story below:

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2010 Interesting Animal Discoveries

As 2010 comes to a close, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the amazing animal discoveries that came to light in the past year.

Israel’s “Lifting Door” Spider
With a leg span of 14 cm (5.5 in.), a new spider found in the dune of the Sands of Samar in Israel is the largest of its type in the Middle East. In addition, scientists have concluded that Cerbalus aravensis is a nocturnal spider that lives in an underground den with a “lifting door” made of glued sand particles so the den remains camouflaged.

Cerbalus aravensis spider

Photo by Yael Olek

Ecuador’s Scaly-Eyed Gecko

Recent exploration by U.S. and Ecuadorian researchers have found more than 30 new species of animals in Ecuador, including the scaly-eyed gecko. A full-grown scaly-eyed gecko is small enough to sit atop the eraser of a pencil. These geckos crawl along the forest floor, making them difficult to spot.
Scaly-eyed gecko

Dinosaurs’ True Colors

Two groups of researchers using electron microscope technology have determined the true colors of two species of dinosaurs.  Sinosauropteryx, a turkey-sized carnivorous dinosaur, had reddish-orange feathers and striped tail.  Anchiornis huxleyi, a chicken-sized dinosaur, had black and white wings and red crown – similar to some woodpeckers.

Sinosauropteryx, a feathered dinosaur

Sinosauropteryx, a feathered dinosaur

All-Black King Penguin

An extremely rare all-black penguin was photographed near Antartica by Andrew Evans of National Geographic.  The king penguin doesn’t look like his tuxedoed counterparts because of what one scientist described as a “one in a zillion kind of mutation.”
All-black king penguin

World’s Largest (and Toughest) Spider Web

A newly discovered spider in Madagascar builds the longest and largest orb webs in the world. The spider, called Darwin’s bark spider, builds webs over rivers that can measure up to 2.8 square meters (about 30 square feet)!  The webs are made of the toughest biomaterial yet discovered and can catch 30 or more insects at any given time.
largest spider web

Reclusive Loris Photographed

One of the most reclusive primates in the world, the Horton Plains slender loris, has only been spotted four times since 1937. So rare were sightings that researchers thought this loris had gone extinct sometime between sightings in 1939 and 2002.  As deforestation has led to a decline in all populations of slender loris, researchers made the effort this year to study the nocturnal primates in their native habitat in Sri Lanka and southern India.  This photo was taken as part of the study.
Horton Plains slender loris

Giant Penguin Fossils

Scientists in Peru uncovered the fossils of a Water King, a giant 5-foot penguin that weighed twice as much as an emperor penguin (the world’s largest living penguin) and lived 36 million years ago.  The fossils, which included well-preserved feathers and scales, led scientists to determine that the Water King had brown and gray feathers, unlike the black and white feathers we associate with modern penguins, and it was a very strong swimmer and diver.
Giant Prehistoric Penguin

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Giant Penguin Discovered

giant penguinImagine seeing a penguin that’s five feet tall and has a very long, straight beak. Imagine a penguin so large it weighs twice as much as a the Emperor penguin, the largest species on Earth. That is, the largest species on Earth currently. If you were alive thirty-six million years ago you might have seen this giant penguin, called the Water King.

Scientists in Peru have recently uncovered the fossils of a Water King, which includes well-preserved feathers and scales. One of the interesting facts discovered is that this species had brown and gray feathers, unlike the black and white we associate with modern penguins.

The scientists have also concluded that based on the flipper structure Water Kings were powerful swimmers and their size could indicate that they were able to dive deeply.

For more on these amazing penguins, visit BBC News.

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Exhibit Review: Crittercam


Last week, we wrote about Crittercam, an exhibit presented by the Museum of Science, Boston and National Geographic.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to visit the exhibit in person.

Crittercam provides a fascinating look into the behavior of several kinds of animals including penguins, seals, sea turtles, sharks, lions, bears, and more.  Using cameras attached to various animals, scientists were able to gather data about hunting techniques, social norms, and daily activity that had previously eluded them.  The exhibit provides video footage captured by the animals along with explanatory text and a few fun facts about the animals discussed.

Lioness wearing CrittercamBut the exhibit also delves into the technology and methodology of Crittercam.  There are models of animals showing how the special cameras were attached and adapted to a particular animal’s lifestyle.

For example, the soft, flexible shells of leatherback sea turtles did not allow the camera to be attached by an adhesive. Instead, a suction cup was applied to the central plate of the turtle’s shell.

Using videos, photos, life-size models, and computer kiosks, the exhibit appeals to an audience of all ages and interests. So if you live in or plan to visit the Boston area, be sure to visit Crittercam at the Museum of Science, which runs through August 30.

For more info: Crittercam.

News of the Harry Potter Exhibition arrives via owl***

During our visit, the museum made an exciting announcement (delivered by an owl) about a very special international exhibition that will open in Boston on October 25, 2009 called Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

Fans of Harry Potter will soon get the chance to immerse themselves in the wizarding world.  Artifacts and costumes from the latest Harry Potter films will be displayed in a 10,000-sq. ft. space.

For more info, see: Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

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