21 December 2014

Little penguin Bella released back to her mate Lucky

Bella having a final swim at Taronga Wildlife Hospital before
being released. Photo credit: Madeleine Smitham
AUSTRALIA - Little penguin Bella was released back into the wild to her waiting mate Lucky earlier this week after being treated at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital.

Bella was released off Manly's Store Beach by Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager Libby Hall, Sydney Harbour National Park Ranger Melanie Tyas and volunteer penguin wardens.

Lucky had been seen swimming in the area nearby at twilight, looking for her. Little penguins usually mate for life and as it is breeding season it was important to get the two love-birds back together.

15 December 2014

World's oldest African penguin undergoes cancer radiation

Tess recovering after radiation therapy.
Photo credit: William Cotton, Colorado State University
USA - On 9 December a toddler peered through thick glass as African penguin Tess dove into her pool at the Pueblo Zoo. It was the penguin’s first swim since Colorado State University (CSU) veterinarians used specialised radiation to treat an aggressive form of skin cancer on her face.

At 40 years old, Tess is the oldest known African penguin, the matriarch of a dying species and a beloved member of the penguin exhibit at the Pueblo Zoo in southern Colorado. For the veterinarians who treated Tess for skin cancer in early December, she is a beacon on a planet with a dwindling variety of creatures.

“Some people would ask, ‘Why are you putting all of these resources into an individual animal?’ But, if this individual animal can tell a story that helps globally with the African penguin, then it’s all worth it,” said Dr. Matthew Johnston, a CSU veterinarian in Avian, Exotic and Zoological Medicine at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Genomes reveal penguins' secrets

Adélie penguin close up.
Credit: Yvette Wharton – The University of Auckland
ANTARCTICA - Two penguin genomes have been sequenced and analysed for the first time in the open access, open data journal GigaScience. The study reveals insights into how Adélie and emperor penguins have been able to adapt to the cold and hostile Antarctic environment.

Antarctic penguins are subject to extremely low temperatures, high winds and profound changes in daylight. They have developed complicated biological systems to regulate temperature and store energy for long-term fasting.

Most studies have focused on the physiological and behavioural aspects of their biology, but an international team of researchers has now analysed the DNA of the two Antarctic penguins relative to other bird species, revealing the genetic basis of their adaptations and their evolutionary history in response to climate change.