55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
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Please note: The Academy will be closing at 3:00 pm on 10/24 (final entry at 2:00 pm). We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Live Penguin Cams 

July 28, 2011

African penguin Research: Chick Bolstering Project


The Chick Bolstering Project http://penguins.adu.org.za/pdf/00011_PTT_chick_FINAL_article_06-07-2011_4.pdf is supported by many partners including the California Academy of Sciences (Steinhart Aquarium). The purpose is to support research of the endangered African penguin in the wild to learn more about the biology of this species and utilize the knowledge to assist the growth of the population. The blog post from 8 July mentioned the juvenile “Lucy” and the satellite transmitter (Platform Transmitter Terminals or PTT) that is tracking her movements. She was traveling very far north in African penguin distribution but her transmitter has ceased transmitting for almost a week. There are several possibilities for this and the Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town Penguin-Watch Team will continue to follow up on their website (link at the end of blog). However, two other penguins have been affixed with the PTT and are currently being tracked. All three will continue to be monitored for as long as six months depending on viability. There is website that you can track “Lucy” (red line), “Richie” (green line) and “Nicky” (yellow line) that updates their movements on maps that are easy to watch. Notably, “Nicky” is headed south.  http://penguins.adu.org.za/ -Pamela Schaller

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 3:47 pm

July 8, 2011

African penguin Traveling: Where?

While normally African penguins are relatively sedentary in their adult years, as juveniles they travel. In fact SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) has recently attached a satellite transmitter to a juvenile African penguin to track her travels. “Lucy” the penguin will be followed for up to the next 6 months of her life in order to learn more about these endangered species. The California Academy of Sciences supports this conservation program. Follow the link to learn more about “Lucy” http://penguins.adu.org.za/content.php?serial=11&mn=99 

If you were around San Francisco today, you may have witnessed one of our penguins traveling. “Pierre” our oldest African penguin visited the eye doctor to get his right eye examined.  Our veterinarian and I brought “Pierre” to two locations in San Francisco to consult an expert eye veterinarian. “Pierre” has been to her before, as she was the surgeon to correct his cataracts. This was a follow up visit to check out how he is doing and to examine his right eye which has recently become cloudy. Vision issues for penguins rarely occur, but can affect ability to navigate and ability to discern other penguin’s behaviors. He was judged by both veterinarians that while his sight may be limited in his right eye he appears to see well enough without surgery needed. While being examined, he adjusted extremely quickly to his surroundings, proving his vision is good enough to travel. Check out the next photos to see if you recognize where he was.-Pamela Schaller




Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 4:50 pm

June 17, 2011

Mr. Popper’s Penguins


In 1938 a book was published entitled Mr. Popper’s Penguins. You may have heard this title with the new movie coming out. If you are a penguin enthusiast and an avid young reader this is a fun, imaginary story about Mr. and Mrs. Popper and their Antarctic friends “Captain Cook”, “Greta”, “Nelson”, “Columbus”, “Louisa”, “Jenny”, “Scott”, “Magellan”, “Adelina”, “Isabella”, “Ferdinand” and “Victoria”.  The book takes many twists and turns, eventually ending far from where “Captain Cook” and “Greta” started. This book has been taught as a literature unit in the classroom for years. This book has also inspired some of our penguin biologists to work with penguins today. Those of us lucky enough to spend time with these energetic, quirky birds enjoy their interactions. They cause lots of soap opera like conversations when the biologists discuss their observations. If you watch our African penguin antics, you may have seen them courting, nest building, fighting, swimming, feeding or preening. They are a colony of 17 birds ranging in age from 3 years old to 28 years old. Our oldest penguin is named “Pierre” and wore a penguin wetsuit at one point in his life. If you are 2-8 years old (or you are parents of children of that age) “Pierre the Penguin: A True Story” may interest you. Whether it is through movies, media, aquariums, museums, wildlife trips or books; penguins teach us important lessons and simply entertain us.-Pamela Schaller

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 4:10 pm

May 25, 2011

African penguin Reproduction: Egg Development and Making Decisions

At the California Academy of Sciences, normal African penguin  incubation is 37-38 days. The eggs “Jahzara” laid are now at Day 45 and Day 41 into incubation. We need to make a decision to evaluate whether the chicks are still developing and need assistance or if the eggs stopped developing somewhere in the incubation process.  This is a difficult decision, because if we open the eggs too early, the chick could potentially stop developing. And if we open too late, the chick could potentially not have enough oxygen or yolk resources and not make it out of the shell. Having candled the eggs this morning with no additional change in air cell or internal pip, I opened the Alpha egg. This egg had been fertilized, but the embryo had stopped developing in the first trimester. The Beta egg was then opened with the same outcome. The candling photos that were taken at Day 9 showed clear vessels and a clear embryo. Now, having opened the eggs and evaluated the candling photos from Day19, 34 and 38, the dark area was bacteria reproducing in the egg likely post mortem. As this is a first time couple, we did expect that the chance of success in reproduction would be low.  The Nest cam that has been capturing “Agulhas’s” and “Jahzara’s” incubation has assisted our staff in evaluation of their first time skills as a couple. They have established normal reproductive behaviors including successful copulation, laying two normal sized eggs and taking turns incubating eggs. These will prove valuable in the future as our contribution to the reproduction of this endangered species. This couple will likely lay another clutch of eggs in the next 2-6 months and based on statistics should have a higher rate of success in the future. -Pamela Schaller

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 2:25 pm

May 14, 2011

African penguin Reproduction: Egg Management and More Candling


The management of African penguin eggs includes marking eggs, record keeping and candling (as reviewed in previous blogs). Knowing when eggs are laid assists the staff in planning for expected offspring. Because African penguins lay 2 eggs usually 3-4 days apart it is important to differentiate between the eggs. Sometimes that is done by size (often the first egg is larger), however it may be difficult to tell by size.  Marking the eggs with a pencil is useful in egg management. Above are 2 eggs, one is marked with an Alpha (upper left egg in photo) designating the first egg. The second is marked with a Beta. As eggs develop, the air cell (located at the fat end of the egg) enlarges and eventually tilts. The air cell is seen upon candling. By drawing the edges of the air cell on the outside of the shell, staff can predict that the egg is close to hatching. The chick draws it’s first breath of air into their lungs in this air cell- this is called the internal pip. Within 12 hours they begin to externally pip (break through the egg shell). Records are kept for each time the eggs are candled and are especially important very close to the internal and external pip. This is called the pip to hatch interval. Writing on the eggs, record keeping and candling are important management tools for chick survival. Below are three candling photos, the first photo is of an African penguin egg at 19 days into incubation, second photo is 34 days into incubation and the third is 38 days. The dark area is growing bacteria likely post mortem, compare this to the previous penguin blog photo when the embryo and blood vessels were obvious at 9 days into incubation.-Pamela Schaller

penguin-eggs-candled-Day 19-compressed

African penguin egg: Day 19

penguin-eggs-candled-Day 34-compressed1

African penguin Egg: Day 34


African penguin Egg: Day 38

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 4:19 pm
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