Tag: RandomHoliday

Three for one: Flashback Friday, random holiday (a day late), and photography challenge day 68: World Penguin Day (a day late)

Yesterday marks world Penguin Day. It’s a day to celebrate some of the unique members of the avian world. These birds are all found in the southern hemisphere–from temperate, warm waters down to the icy cold waters of the Antarctic.

If you are unable to see these majestic birds in their natural habitats (and I realize that is one thing I would love to be able to do–is see a penguin in the wild), the next best place is either a zoo or an aquarium.

The New England Aquarium actually has three species of penguins living there: the rockhopper, the little blue, and the African penguin.

Rockhopper Penguins at the New England Aquarium

The rockhopper penguin is one of the smaller species of penguin. They are found in the southern hemisphere, with one subspecies (the northern rockhopper) living in the cool temperate climates on islands in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The other two subspecies are found in the more southern oceans around Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand.

Their diet consists of krill, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, crayfish, squid, and fish; though they eat mostly krill and crustaceans more than fish and squid.

Their predators are all at sea (for adults) and consist of seals (leopard & fur), killer whales, and blue sharks. The eggs and young are eaten by numerous different bird species including different gulls and giant petrels (to name a few).

Both males and females look similar, so one actually has to do a DNA test to determine the gender of the penguin in captivity. Their key characteristics that differentiate them from other penguins include their red eyes, orange been, pink webbed feet, and the yellow spiky feathers on their heads. Another distinguishing characteristics is that they don’t slide on their bellies (since their habitat is rocky areas—it makes sense not to to slide downhill on their stomach), they hop from one place to another—hence the name rockhopper penguin.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockhopper_penguin

Little Blue Penguins at the New England Aquarium

The little blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin—it only gets to be about a foot tall. It lives on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand.

Their diet consists of fish, squids, and crustaceans—such as arrow squids, anchovy, and red cod. The female little blue matures at about two years of age, while the male matures at about three years of age. Their nests are close to the ocean, both parents share the duties of egg incubation and rearing the chicks (which usually fledge within seven to eight weeks after hatching).

The New England Aquarium, is the only aquarium outside of Australia and New Zealand that houses a colony of little blue penguins.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_penguin

African Penguins at the New England Aquarium

The other names for the African penguin include: the jackass penguin and the black-footed penguin. This penguin is confined to the south-western African waters, and is listed as endangered.

Since the penguin is listed as endangered—numerous breeding populations are kept at different zoos and aquariums worldwide. One reason for their numbers decline is the harsh environment in which they breed—if the birds get overheated while sitting on the eggs—they will abandon the nest and eggs won’t survive. The young face threats of predators and the heat of the sun.

Their diet is similar to other penguins and includes squid and other small crustaceans. These penguins breed in colonies, and the pairs will return to the same site each year.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_penguin

Watching the penguins at the aquarium is always something I enjoy doing–mainly because you never know what they’re going to be doing. They might sit around, they may go for a swim, or wander around. They’ve always been a favorite bird of mine, and I’d love to either see the other species in the wild or at other zoos and aquariums around the country or the world.

No Comments naturePhotographyRandom Celebration DaysZoos/Aquariums

National Zoo Lover Day–A day late.

The mighty king of the jungle: the lion.

Yesterday was Zoo Lover Day—and I wish I could have spent the day at a zoo watching the animals instead of being inside working. But alas, that didn’t happen this year (maybe next year). I’ve realized that I’ve only been to probably five zoos over the years since I was a kid. I’ve been to a couple of these zoos yearly growing up, as they were part of our vacation—but since then I’ve only been to one new zoo. Which is why I have on my 101-goal list—visit at least one new zoo and aquarium at some point over the next 1001 days.

Zebra and Giraffe

What are a few zoo facts?

Zoos have been around since the 1700s. With the Vienna zoo being the oldest existing zoo—it’s been open since 1765. The first public zoo in the US was opened in 1874—Central Park Zoo.

There are 350 zoos in the US alone.

~175 million people visit a zoo each year. Over 3.2 million people visit the San Diego Zoo each year & over 9.8 million people visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom each year.

Giant Anteater

Out of the 350 zoos in the United States, I’ve been to the following zoos: Oklahoma City Zoo, Tulsa Zoo, Como Park Zoo (in St Paul MN), Henry Vilas Zoo (Madison WI), and the Franklin Park Zoo (Boston MA). All pictures that are in the post today came from my one trip to the Franklin Park Zoo when I was living in Boston quite a few years ago.

Andean Condor

I would love to again see one in the wild—but going through the forests of the Andes to try to find an elusive scavenger that is endangered—I’ll just have to be happy trying to get a good picture of it in zoos. Though it might be a bonus if I ever do make it to South America and travel through the rainforests.

Kookaburra

I would love to see one in the wild—but I don’t think that I’d be traveling in the western part of Australia (unless I did some type of group tour). While Australia is on my list of places I want to visit–I’m currently planning on staying on the more populated side of the island.

While I would love to see most of the animals in their natural habitat (at a very safe distance mind you), I understand that they’re in zoos due to human behavior. We (humans) have yet to figure out how to live in harmony with the rest of the planet; we take and destroy without thinking of the long term consequences of our actions. Most of these animals now have to be in zoos to survive, if not they would be extinct due again to human nature.

One goal/bucket list item may be to see how many other zoos in the US I can visit over the years–I’ve been to five, and that means that there are at least 345 more zoos that I should try to visit.

No Comments PhotographyRandom Celebration DaysZoos/Aquariums