How are you celebrating World Penguin Day?

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April 25, 2013

ItsWorld Penguin Daytoday, and a fine excuse to celebrate the majesty and silliness of fine-flippered friends. In that spirit, I thought it would be good to pull together some fun facts about penguins. Some are fun, some are facts, and some are both at once. And dont miss thehow you can helpbit at the end.

Penguin facts

All wild penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, and although they are synonymous with the ice, only two species live on the continent of Antarctica.The Galapagos penguinis the only penguin that ever naturally ventures into the Northern Hemisphere on especially long feeding trips The first bird actually called a penguin was the now-extinctGreat Aukfound in the North Atlantic. Tragically, early explorers and their contemporaries found Great Auks a little too tasty, and the birds were all killed off. Fossil evidence shows that penguins evolved before the Dinosaurs died out, and there are remains of giant,people-sized, prehistoric penguins. In comparison, the worlds smallest penguins are theLittle Blue penguins. They are just over 30cm high on their flippers. (Yes, youre thinking you could fit one in your bag, and keep it in your bath, arent you...?) Despite having brands ofbooksandbiscuitsnamed after them, penguins show little interest in literature and are confounded by biscuit wrappers because they lack opposable thumbs. [caption id="attachment_17423" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="King George Penguins in the Atlantic Ocean"][/caption] To move fast through the water, penguins use a technique calledporpoising. To move quickly over the ice, they switch totobogganning. Curiously, porpoises neither use toboggans nor do they use the word penguin as a verb. Scientists have discovered that emperor penguins, the largest species, use a specialbubble-power go-faster technologyto increase their speed under water. Penguins have been immortalised on the big and small screens: singing with Mary Poppins, stealing theMuppet Showsshow, protecting the oceans with theOctonauts, and being a criminal mastermind inWallace & Gromit. However it is theHappy Feetpenguins who have the best fictitious claim to fame having used the medium of dance to get the United Nations to protect the entire Southern Ocean* Penguins at London and Edinburgh Zoos only eatsustainably-sourced fish. Theyre very picky, and eco-conscious, you know [caption id="attachment_17422" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Penguins off the coast of New Zealand"][/caption] Adelie penguins love rocks. They use them to make nests and they are in short supply so what to do to get more rocks? Well the shocking truth is that female Adelie penguins think nothing of offering sex to neighbouring males in exchange for a pebble.Pebble promiscuityis just the tip of the iceberg though. Early scientists in Antarctica deemed the sexual shenanigans of these cute birdstoo shockingfor the public to know about. Penguin poo can be incredibly useful. Not only is itsometimes visible from space, but projectile pooing can be a handy way of deterring predators, or making a social comment. Penguins who had been the star attractions at Edinburgh Zoo for over a century had their beaks put out of joint when pandas arrived there recently. Some of them resorted to adirty protestaimed at the queues of panda visitors.

How you can help promote World Penguin Day

*Despite the best efforts of the Happy Feet penguins, the Southern Ocean is not yet protected. Thats why we are working with theAntarctic Oceans Alliance, and lobbying governments to come together to protect areas likethe Ross Sea, which are vital for many penguins.

You can help us, and the penguins, byjoining our call for ocean sanctuaries around the world, and by spreading the word about World Penguin Day.

Feel free to grab any of the photos on this page share them on Facebook, by email or wherever (more here), with a link back to this blog or the petition. Any ideas for penguin photo captions or know of other brilliant penguin photos please tell us in the comments! Check out #PenguinDay on Twitter. Penguins dont tweet, but you can. [caption id="attachment_17424" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Gentoo penguins at Stromness Harbour (South Georgia) in the Atlantic Ocean."][/caption]

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