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August 24, 2011

Homey and Pierre Temporarily off Exhibit

Today our blue-banded couple, Homey and Pierre, were temporarily removed from the main colony on exhibit in Africa Hall. They were placed in a holding pen one floor down from, but within auditory range of, the rest of the birds because Homey underwent a minor medical procedure on her left foot. Everything went wonderfully and she’s doing great but her foot needs to be kept in a clean and dry bandage while it heals, which should take about 1-2 weeks. Pierre is keeping her company and the two definitely seem to be enjoying their quiet time together away from all the rambunctious youngsters!

Homey sports a snazzy bandage and pulse oximeter

Homey sports a snazzy bandage and pulse oximeter.

The patient receives fluids post-procedure from our veterinarian to help her recover

The patient receives fluids from our veterinarian to help her recover.

Homey and Pierre explore their new digs.

Homey and Pierre explore their new digs.

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 5:31 pm


  1. How smart are penguins? Are they smarter than cats, dogs, pigs, primates and dolphins? Are they the smartest birds?

    Comment by Jocelyn — August 24, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

  2. I glad to hear Homey’s procedure went well!! I hope she has a fast recovery! Yes I’m sure they are happy to be away from the youngsters, I saw a youngster trying to kick them out of their nestbox, but of course Pierre & Homey defended it well!!

    You guys will be missed at feeding, which I watch daily from my iPhone!! See you guys in a few weeks!

    Comment by Lex — August 25, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  3. While Homey and Pierre are off Exhibit will another penguin or couple take over their next box? If so, what happens when they return to the Exhibit? It could be interesting.

    Comment by Patrice — August 26, 2011 @ 9:58 am

  4. Hi Patrice, Homey and Pierre’s nest-box has been closed off to prevent other birds from taking it over while they’re not around to defend it. It will be re-opened when they return to the exhibit in 1-2 weeks. We will also be monitoring the colony closely to make sure the reintroduction goes smoothly. Thanks for your consideration and writing in!

    Comment by Penguins — August 28, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  5. Thank you for your reply. I did mean nest-box. I was wondering if you would close it off.

    Comment by Patrice — August 28, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  6. Hi – wondering if you were aware there were problems with the audio today? I watch daily and today there was no sound, but it looked like there were two biologists at the morning feeding – I can’t help but wonder if I missed something unusual!

    Comment by janeray1940 — August 30, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

  7. Hello, yes there was something unusual going on yesterday! We are currently training Nicole, the newest member of our Penguin Team, to care for the birds. Because feeding and keeping track of each individual bird can be daunting at first we did not perform the audio portion of the program at either feed yesterday. We’ll also be doing the same today. This allows both biologists in the exhibit to focus entirely on the colony without having to worry about speaking and answering questions. You may see this periodically throughout the next couple of months while Nicole and the penguins get used to each other.

    Comment by Penguins — August 31, 2011 @ 10:28 am

  8. Thank you for the explanation, much appreciated :)

    Comment by janeray1940 — August 31, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  9. Hi! Today while I was watching after the 3pm feeding with Pam it seemed like one of the penguins didn’t want to leave her side. Based on what I heard during the feeding I am guessing it was Dunker. Does the attention he pays to Pam cause any problems with his mate, ie, does she get jealous? Also, had it been a long time since he had seen Pam or does he react that way every time he sees her because she raised him? Finally, and on another topic altogether, do you have to be careful coming into the penguin environment relative to pathogens? How isolated are the penguins? Do the biologists, helpers and docents have to undergo any kind of sterilization process prior to entering the area? I have to say, I have become addicted to watching your exhibit every day at feeding time. The penguins, humans, discussions and questions are all totally AWESOME!!! Thank you so much for all of you.

    Comment by Karen — September 1, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  10. Hi Karen, thanks for writing! Dunker had some health problems as a chick and, as a result, was hand-raised from an earlier age and for a longer duration than the rest of the birds. As a result he is inclined to have a closer relationship to the people who care for him than the other birds do. The particular day you’re referring to was Pam’s first time in the exhibit for a couple of weeks so Dunker was probably just extra excited to see her. Dunker is maturing into a very capable penguin and has recently settled down in a nest-box with his mate Kianga. He’s defending his territory (even from us!) and the young couple had their first clutch of eggs a couple of weeks ago. Dunker’s reaction to Pam on that day did not yield any noticeable adverse effects on his relationship with Kianga; the two youngsters are doing a great job of taking incubation shifts on their nest, braying to keep other birds away, and solidifying their pair bond with each other.

    In regards to the second part of your question the Academy’s colony is not exposed to the outside at all so we don’t have to worry about diseases like Avian malaria or West Nile virus, which are primarily transmitted via mosquito bites. The air in their exhibit is maintained by a handling system that maintains positive pressure and extensively filters the air to keep it clean and prevent potentially harmful fungal spores from proliferating. Finally, all staff and visitors who enter the exhibit step through a bleach foot bath to help prevent bringing anything harmful into contact with the birds.

    Hope this answered your questions and we’re so glad that you’re enjoying the birds as much as we do!

    Comment by Penguins — September 7, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  11. Hi Jocelyn, I’ve been keeping your very interesting question in the back of my mind and have decided I’d like to do something a little unconventional for this blog and respond to you with another question. What, exactly, do you mean by “smart”?

    Comment by Penguins — September 11, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  12. Thank you so much for the answers to my questions. Once again I have to thank all the humans and penguins for making themselves available to those of us who can’t visit the California Academy of Sciences in person. You brighten up each and every day with entertainment and enlightenment!!!

    Comment by Karen — September 15, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  13. I mean how intelligent are penguins? Are they as intelligent as dolphins?

    Comment by Jocelyn — September 26, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  14. How big is a penguin’s brain?

    Comment by Jocelyn — September 26, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  15. Hi Jocelyn, I’ll do a whole blog posting on this question in a couple of weeks. I think it certainly warrants it and is a bit too much to handle in the comment section. Stay tuned…there’s one new article I want to tackle this week and then I’ll address this. Thanks again for bringing it up!

    Comment by Penguins — September 27, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  16. Hi Jocelyn, it depends on the species of penguin and is correlated in a straightforward manner in relation to body mass. For example, the smallest penguin species Eudyptula minor the Little Blue penguin has an observed overall brain volume of about 7 mL (milliliters). The largest penguin species Aptenodytes forsteri the Emperor penguin has an observed brain volume of around 46 mL. Other species fall in between this range relative to their particular body mass.

    Comment by Penguins — September 27, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

  17. Do Penguins eat carrots and apples and other foods? Are they able to eat other food?

    Comment by Jocelyn — September 30, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  18. Hi Jocelyn, penguins do not eat apples and carrots. These were examples of objects we occasionally place in the exhibit for the birds to “play” with as enrichment. Penguins feed primarily on small fish, krill and squid and will not really eat anything else (nor should they). African penguins, like most temperate and tropical species, feed mostly on fish while species in the Antarctic tend to feed almost exclusively on krill.

    Comment by Penguins — October 2, 2011 @ 10:18 am

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