National Penguin Awareness Day


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Please understand the significance of this January 20 holiday, National Penguin Awareness Day.

Penguins have captivated the hearts of millions, particularly since Happy Feet hit movie theaters in 2006, and continues to be streamed.

Sadly, many penguin species are decreasing in numbers for an assortment of reasons, all connected to humans….due to climate change their food sources (which vary from species to species) may be diminishing, due to climate change they may have difficulty adjusting to new temperatures particularly to lay and hatch their babies. Pollution is a significant issue as well.

Penguins are a barometer of ocean health and the effects of human activity, according to scientists from institutions around the world. Raising awareness is more than about penguins beings so darn cute.

Here are 10 facts about penguins to impress your friends:

  1. Penguins have a special gland that filters salt out of their bloodstream, allowing them to gulp down mouthfuls of seawater while swimming. The salty brine is then pumped out of their nostrils, giving them a constant case of the sniffles and causing them to shake their heads a lot.
  2. While all penguin parents are monogamous during mating season, Magellanic, Gentoo, and Royal penguins partner up for life without requiring a divorce lawyer.
  3. Weighing in at more than 77 pounds and standing at almost four-feet tall, the Emperor Penguin is the grandest of all penguin species. These penguins have about 80 feathers per square inch, more than any other bird. Their well-crafted wetsuits help them survive during the annual march to their breeding grounds (remember March of the Penguins) in Antarctica, as they sometimes walk more than 70 miles in temperatures that can plummet to 40 degrees below zero with winds gusting as much as 40 mph (and that’s windchill of -84).
  4. Can you imagine a 7-foot tall penguin? In 2014, scientists discovered a prehistoric penguin speciesknown as the Colossus Penguin. The species was found in Antarctica and is predicted to be about 37 million years old.
  5. One penguin species, the Adelie penguins, build their next pebble by pebble. Antarctic colonies they are often seen walking long distances with a single pebble in their mouth.
  6. The Gentoo Penguin is the fastest penguin in the water, reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour, and Emperor Penguin can hold its breath for up to 22 minutes.
  7. The African Penguin has one of the most unique nicknames of any animal species, called the : “jackass penguin” because they sound like a donkey’s bray.
  8. While the Galapagos penguin may randomly cross over the Equator for a short distance, penguins are otherwise creatures only creatures of the Southern hemisphere. Even a penguin without GPS isn’t going to land anywhere near the North Pole.
  9. The Macaroni Penguin looks like they wear feathers in their caps (more resembling spaghetti than macaroni) but so be it.
  10. While most penguins nest in colonies, Yellow-eyed Penguins live in isolated pairs. And rather than bunking out in the snow, they dwell on the forest floors and grassy coastlines of New Zealand. The smallest penguins, the Blue Fairy penguins, also reside in New Zealand.

From WGN Radio, listen here to a conversation with Dyan DeNapoli  the acclaimed Penguin Lady, about her book The Great Penguin Rescue. This is the true story about the greatest animal rescue and recovery of all time, which included over 40,000 penguins in South Africa. Also, discussed are the fascinating seabirds, and why we have a fascination with penguins.