Posts Tagged ‘Penguins’

Homosexuality Common in the Wild, Scientists Say

May 26, 2008

As gay couples celebrate their newfound right to marry in California and opposition groups rally to fight the ruling, many struggle with this question: Is homosexuality natural?

On this issue, Nature has spoken: Same-sex lovin’ is common in hundreds of species, scientists say.

Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo, were a couple for about six years, during which they nurtured a fertilized egg together (given to them by a zookeeper) and raised the young chick that hatched.

According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Böckman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others.

If homosexuality is natural in the animal kingdom, then there is the question of why evolution hasn’t eliminated this trait from the gene pool, since it doesn’t lead to reproduction.

It may simply be for pleasure.

“Not every sexual act has a reproductive function,” said Janet Mann, a biologist at Georgetown University who studies dolphins (homosexual behavior is very common in these marine mammals). “That’s true of humans and non-humans.”

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Fur Seal Caught Trying to Mate With Penguin

May 13, 2008

An Antarctic fur seal has been caught on camera trying to have sex with a penguin.

This seems to be the first known example of a sexual escapade between a mammal and another kind of vertebrate such as a bird, reptile or fish, “although some mammals are known to have attempted sexual relief with inanimate — including dead things — objects,” said researcher Nico de Bruyn, a mammal ecologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

One summer morning, scientists observing elephant seals on a beach on Marion Island near the Antarctic spotted a young male Antarctic fur seal subduing a king penguin.

“At first we thought it was hunting the penguin, but then it became clear that his intentions were rather more amorous,” de Bruyn recalled Monday via e-mail.

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Custom wetsuit protects patchy penguin

April 25, 2008

What’s black and white and warm all over? A penguin in a wetsuit, naturally.

Sounds like a joke, but it’s quite serious for biologists at the California Academy of Sciences, who had a wetsuit created for an African penguin to help him get back in the swim of things.

Pierre, a venerable 25 years old, was going bald, which left him with an embarrassingly exposed, pale pink behind.

Unlike marine mammals, which have a layer of blubber to keep them warm, penguins rely on their waterproof feathers. Without them, Pierre was unwilling to plunge into the academy’s penguin tank and ended up shivering on the sidelines while his 19 peers played in the water.

“He was cold; he would shake,” said Pam Schaller, a senior aquatic biologist at the academy.

Pierre’s species of penguin is accustomed to temperate climates, unlike many of their cousins. The birds are nicknamed Jackass penguins because they make sounds similar to braying donkeys, quite startling the first time you hear it in an aquarium.

Schaller first tried a heat lamp to keep Pierre warm. Then she got another idea: If wetsuits help humans frolic in the chilly Pacific, why not whip up one in a slightly smaller size?

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Take your Valentine on a tour of the sex lives of animals…maybe?

February 10, 2008

The San Francisco Zoo’s 19th annual Valentine’s-themed adventure featuring a humorous exploration into the sexual behavior of animals kicked off Saturday.

“Woo at the Zoo”‘ educates guests through a multimedia presentation and up-close encounters with various creatures inside the zoo’s Osher Great Hall, according to zoo officials. The 90-minute program offers a scientific look at animal reproduction, choosing mates and raising families.

“This is one of the most popular programs that the zoo has to offer going into its 19th year,” zoo spokesman Paul Garcia said this afternoon.

Led by former penguin keeper Jane Tollini, the event will be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. In addition, there will be Sunday brunch presentations today and on Feb. 17.

Topics will include how rhinoceros’ foreplay lasts for a more than a month while mating occurs only once a year, and how giraffes neck during courtship. Tollini also will discuss how opossums that have two wombs can get pregnant while they’re already pregnant and how banana slugs are hermaphrodites, Garcia said.

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Bullied, mateless — life’s tough when you’re a beige penguin. Poor little guy!

January 4, 2008

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A freak penguin that is bullied because of its unusual appearance has been found in Antarctica.

The Adelie penguin lacks pigmentation and is missing its trademark black “dinner jacket”, which is instead a dirty beige…

…On the Mawson’s Huts expedition blog, photographer Brett Jarrett described the hapless bird getting picked on and harassed by other penguins.“At least this individual reached adulthood, even though while being observed was quite regularly picked on and harassed by other ‘normal’ Adelies,” Mr Jarrett said.

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Virtual Penguins Helping Real Penguins

January 4, 2008

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…In Club Penguin, a popular online game club for the elementary school set, more than 2.5 million kids gave their virtual earnings to charities in a contest this month. In response, the site’s founders are giving $1 million to charities based on the children’s preferences…

…At Club Penguin, children’s penguins have virtual jobs, earn virtual coins and can buy things for their virtual igloo homes. The site held a 10-day “Coins for Change” campaign ending on Christmas Eve in which 2.5 million users donated in some cases as many as 1,500 coins – enough to furnish an igloo – to charities. In turn, the site, owned by Walt Disney Co., divided 1 million real dollars among the charities: the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund and Free the Children.

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Check out Club Penguin on Wikipedia, or visit the Club Penguin official site.