We have a winner
May 20, 2013
Welcome, Linus! And congratulations to Corey Morgan from Fairfield who suggested the name for the Academy’s newest penguin chick in honor of Carolus Linnæus, the taxonomist who originally described the African Penguin species in 1758.
After a behind-the-scenes experience in the aquarium’s food preparation area, Corey and her daughter attended a ceremony at which Linus’ name was unveiled in front of the penguin tank. As a memento, she received a piece of one-of-a-kind artwork painted by Linus himself.
You’ll recognize Linus in the exhibit or via the penguin cams by his grey plumage (in place until he is about a year old) or by the white band with a red stripe on his right wing.
Thank you to all 2,267 people who submitted their name suggestions!
Meet our new penguin chick! What should we name him?
April 10, 2013
Update on May 3: We’ve selected the following three finalist penguin chick names submitted from the public based on originality and connection to the Academy’s mission:
- Alto – In honor of Althea Westphal, the dedicated founder of SANCCOB, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of threatened seabirds, like African penguins, in the wild. Submitted by Noemie H. from Berkeley.
- Amanzi – Amanzi means “water” in Zulu, a widely spoken language in southern Africa, the African penguin’s natural coastal habitat. Submitted by Audrey A. from Petaluma.
- Linus – In honor of Carolus Linnaeus, the taxonomist who originally described the African penguin species in 1758. Submitted by Corey M. from Fairfield.
Vote for your favorite name by May 10 – the name with the most votes will be the winner!
Join us to find out our new penguin chick’s name at a Naming Ceremony on May 16 at 10:00 am in African Hall.
Today, biologists introduced a male penguin chick to the African penguin exhibit. Hatched on January 28, 2013, the chick is just over two months old and, until today, has been living with his parents in a private nest off of public view to give the family a chance to bond. Now that he’s on display, he needs a name! From now until April 30, submit your ideas to our Name the Penguin Chick Contest.
The Academy has a long and successful history of breeding African penguins as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) for this endangered species, but this chick marks the first hatched at the new Academy building, which opened in late 2008. African penguins were classified as an endangered species in 2010 and are at very high risk of extinction in the wild. The SSP’s aim is to maintain the genetic diversity of captive populations through controlled breeding and collaborative exchange of offspring among partner zoos and aquariums.
The chick’s parents, Robben (father) and Ty (mother), are a recommended breeding pair due to their genetically valuable gene pools. Like all new parents, the pair has kept close watch over their new arrival, taking turns caring for the bird, as biologists monitored his progress carefully. On average, it takes one year for African penguins to lose their juvenile plumage and develop their tuxedo-like appearance. So for the foreseeable future, you can recognize him in the exhibit or on the penguin cams by his grey and white coloration.
At the conclusion of the penguin naming contest, Academy staff will select the top three names based on originality and connection to the Academy’s mission to explore, explain and sustain life, including the African Penguin SSP program. The final three names will be put out to public vote, and the winning name will be announced during a naming ceremony in May.
Beautiful, rare octopus joins Animal Attraction exhibit
March 7, 2013
One of the world’s most beautiful—and little-known—species of octopus is now on public display for the first time, right here at the Academy. Aquarium biologist Richard Ross has spent the last 13 months raising and studying the behavior of the species, which was initially discovered in 1991 but largely forgotten until now. He and Dr. Roy Caldwell of the University of California, Berkeley are still working on a formal description of the species, which doesn’t yet have a scientific name, but they didn’t want to wait any longer to share this spectacular animal known for its unusual mating habits and dramatic coloration with the public.
When it comes to mating and reproduction, the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus defies conventional octopus behavior in several surprising ways. Because female octopuses have a tendency to eat their mates, the animals usually live solitary lives—and when they do come together to mate, they typically try to stay as far away as possible from their mate’s mouth. However, pairs of Larger Pacific Striped Octopuses can live peacefully together in an aquarium, at times sharing a den, and they mate in an intimate beak-to-beak, or sucker-to-sucker, position. Additionally, unlike other octopus species in which the females tend to die after laying a clutch of eggs, these females can lay many clutches of eggs over the course of their lives.
This behavior has earned the animals a spot in our Animal Attraction aquarium gallery, where a female has already taken up residence, soon to be joined by a male. The display also includes an iPad exhibit label featuring video footage of their mating behavior, but lucky visitors may even witness the act first-hand. Ross plans to raise and study the paralarvae they produce to learn more about the animal’s life cycle and develop captive breeding protocols for the species, which is currently known from only a few locations off the coast of Nicaragua.
Human Odyssey and related programs launch
February 8, 2013
Did you know that humans almost went extinct 90,000 to 70,000 years ago? Or that the 7 billion people on the planet today are virtually identical, genetically speaking? Trace the milestones of our species’ fascinating history in Human Odyssey, a dramatic new addition to Tusher African Hall opening today, Friday, February 8, 2013.
Occupying the west end of the hall, Human Odyssey features interactive displays, detailed fossil casts, and the latest scientific knowledge about the evolution of Homo sapiens—a still-unfolding story that began in Africa 7 million years ago. Highlights include:
- Faces from the past – Examine the skull casts of three early human species, then watch as fleshed-out reconstructions of their faces appear using “Pepper’s Ghost” optical illusion technology.
- Walking with Lucy – Compare the distinctive gaits of a chimpanzee, Australopithecus afarensis (the species of the famous “Lucy” skeleton), and a modern human.
- Interactive migration map – Use touchscreen stations to trace our species’ migration from its African origins over the past 70,000 years.
- Academy research – Learn about the work of noted Academy anthropologist Dr. Zeray Alemseged, whose notable discoveries are “Selam,” an exceptionally well-preserved A. afarensis fossil from 3.3 million years ago, and the earliest evidence to date of tool use and meat-eating by human ancestors.
Human Odyssey is generously supported by Pauline and Tom Tusher.
This spring, the Academy will also offer a suite of public programs related to Human Odyssey, including:
Live African Safari
Daily at 1:00 pm (February 1 – May 9, 2013)
Adventure through Africa and explore the amazing biodiversity of its animals and habitats. Included with Academy admission.
Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00 am (February 1 – May 9, 2013)
In this lab-based program, you will learn about recent discoveries that scientists have made in uncovering the story of “us,” and how they make sense of it all through DNA analysis and modern technology. Included with Academy admission.
What Makes Us Human?
Monday – Friday at 11:00 am (February 1 – May 9, 2013)
Follow the milestones in human evolution—upright walking, tool making, and symbolic thinking—while comparing the adaptations of early humans to our modern bodies. Included with Academy admission.
Pritzker Lecture: “Lucy” and “Selam” Climbed Trees, So What?
Dr. Zeray Alemseged, Irvine Chair of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences
Wednesday, February 13 at 7:00 pm
Dr. Alemseged will discuss the evidence for climbing behavior in A. afarensis based on new analysis of his own find “Selam,” currently the most complete and earliest skeleton of a juvenile human ancestor. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, free for Academy members. Purchase tickets in advance online, or (415) 379-8000.
Out of Africa NightLife (ages 21+)
Thursday, February 28 from 6:00 – 10:00 pm
Every Thursday night, music, creatures and cocktails come together for NightLife at the Academy. This week, in honor of Human Odyssey, hear from a trio of Academy scientists who conduct fieldwork in Africa, and get an up-close look at magnificent African big cats. Music by the DJs and percussionists of Afrolicious. Tickets are $12, $10 for Academy members. Purchase tickets online, or at the door.