Tomorrow, April 25, is World Penguin Day. It’s not an actual holiday, but it’s a fine time to think about these amazing flightless birds and take a look at some recent penguin news.
World Penguin Day is reported to have been started by researchers in Antarctica to mark the time of year that Adélie penguins begin moving north for the winter. Though the day may have been started for Adélie penguins, it’s used to celebrate all of the world’s 17 different species (kinds) of penguins.
Most penguins spend about half their time on land and the rest in the sea. They depend on fish and other kinds of small sea life for food. Almost all penguins live in the southern half of the world, below the equator.
The climate crisis has had serious effects on penguins. Around two-thirds of penguin species are dropping in numbers and struggling to adjust. Warming seas, changing ice patterns, loss of food, and pollution are just a few of the problems faced by penguins.
But there’s also happier penguin news. Many zoos and aquariums have programs designed to increase the numbers of threatened penguins.
On Thursday, Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo announced the hatching of four penguin chicks. Visitors to the zoo’s webcams were able to watch live as the chicks came out. The chicks are especially good news because they are northern rockhopper penguins – a species in danger of dying out.
People who want to see the chicks grow can watch them over the zoo’s webcam. Dawn Nicoll, who’s in charge of penguins at the zoo, says there are 14 eggs in all, so it’s possible that more penguin chicks will hatch soon.
The zoo hopes the webcams will also encourage people to give money to the zoo. The zoo is struggling without visitors. It costs the zoo about $67,500 a month just to feed their animals.
In Australia, Sydney’s Sea Life Aquarium is celebrating World Penguin Day with a follow-up to another interesting story of a penguin chick.
In 2018, two male gentoo penguins, called Sphen and Magic, paired up and began to make a nest. Aquarium workers gave the pair an extra egg from another penguin couple. (Gentoo penguins may lay more than one egg, but they only raise one chick.)
Sphen and Magic turned out to be great parents. They raised a baby girl, who’s known as “Sphengic”. On Saturday, the aquarium will be holding a special live stream to go behind the scenes, answer questions, and update the world on the family.
In Other Penguin News…
Remember Wellington the penguin? He was one of the penguins at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. He became famous after the keepers at the Shedd shared videos of Wellington and other penguins roaming the empty aquarium after the lockdown started.
Now Wellington and his pals at the Shedd are starring in a video with Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker. The video shares tips for staying safe during the pandemic. In the video, the penguins are used to make a point about how important social distancing is.