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December 20, 2011

New Penguin Sinclair

Sinclair, the newest member of the Academy’s African penguin colony, was introduced to our exhibit for the first time this past Monday and is the first new bird to be brought into the renovated building. She arrived in San Francisco on November 17th in great condition from Tulsa Zoo in Oklahoma. Below is a picture of her being picked up from the cargo area of San Francisco Airport:


Sinclair was hatched at New England Aquarium on March 28th, 1991. We received Sinclair as part of our commitment to cooperatively manage this endangered species with other zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  African penguins are managed under what’s referred to as a Green-level Species Survival Plan (SSP). This means that the population of the species in captivity is considered sustainable for the long-term which, in more detail, means that we can maintain 90% genetic diversity within the group for at least 100 years. Breeding is prioritized to maintain or increase gene diversity largely through considerations of mean kinship, avoidance of inbreeding, and the degree of uncertainty within an individual’s pedigree.

As a general rule any new animals (whether fish or snakes or penguins, etc…) brought into the Academy are subject to a 30 day quarantine period where they are isolated from the rest of the collection to avoid transmission of any pathogens they might be carrying. Sinclair did wonderfully down in what has previously been referred to as “the Love-shack” with her recommended mate Agulhas (green-banded male). The two almost immediately started sharing their nest-box and were seen bowing and shaking their heads to each-other, all good signs for the formation of a strong pair bond.

So far Sinclair has been doing well on exhibit and is sporting a green wing-band on her left wing to match Agulhas. She has been holding her own with the rest of the colony yet is very mellow to work with. It was a lovely surprise to find that she has not been at all aggressive with the biologists who’ve been caring for her. We haven’t seen her in Agulhas’s nest yet but the two have been in close proximity and have even been braying together.

Hopefully the two will have a long and prolific future!


Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony,Dunker — Penguins @ 5:57 pm


  1. Be sure to take care of Pierre because we learned about him in class and his story was so touching to my heart.

    Comment by teala — December 21, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  2. brooke came in on tail end of 3:00 feeding Friday, must have missed the drama. You may need a vacation very soon Sorry dunker and mate had to be moved for awhile bet Pete was part of the drama i can spot Sinclaire a mile away(actually 10 inches from my screen) That girl has one big beak!!! wonder if oceo ocio or just plain oco—- will ever find a female bird mate thank you and the rest of the staff for all the care you give these guys. Merry Xmas Candace i think Safra may be a bit of a tart

    Comment by candace nordee — December 23, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  3. Ha, thanks candace :)

    Comment by Penguins — December 29, 2011 @ 9:30 am

  4. We do everything can to ensure that Pierre has the highest possible quality of life and are all quite fond of him here; he really is a special bird. He’s actually been doing extremely well lately and joining the colony in the pool for almost every feeding, which he hadn’t been doing for quite some time. Hopefully we’ll have many more years with him…

    Comment by Penguins — December 29, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  5. I love watching these penguins, I check in every day on the android app. They always bring a smile to my face. How many penguins are there? I’ve only counted up to 13.

    Comment by mar — January 9, 2012 @ 9:56 am

  6. Hi Brooke!
    I’ve been out of town for a while so I’m way behind in what’s been going on in the calacademy penguin exhibit and apologize for any questions that may have been answered during the feedings.
    First of all, let me say that I love the penguin feeding team of you and Kira! The two of you really seem to have fun.
    Secondly, I heard mention that Safara is sitting on an egg. Who is the papa penguin for that egg and will you let it go to term or is it going to be replaced with a dummy egg (if it hasn’t been already)? If it will go to term, will a camera be placed in her nest anytime soon?
    Thirdly, I heard mention that 2 penguins are currently off in the love shack. Would those be Dunker and Kianga? How old are they and how are they doing? Have they been inclined towards each other for very long?
    Fourthly, when did Dassen turn 28 (i.e. what day) and when is Pierre’s birthday (also what day-I heard mention that it would be next month)?
    And finally, isn’t there quite an age difference between Agulhas and Sinclair? Is that not an issue in the penguin world? And was there any problem for Agulhas when Jahzara was shipped off to another aquarium (I thought they had had a couple of eggs together and were a couple)?
    Thanks again for everything you and all the other penguinteers do!

    Comment by Karen — January 9, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  7. Hi, I hear great news that there will be two more penguins added this year. Sinclair is such a cutie! At the 3pm Monday feeding I heard that Pete will get a new mate. Is there a date set for the arrival? I’d like to visit the Academy again before then to see Pete before he is off exhibit for a month in quarantine with the new penguin.

    Will Pete’s nest box (the third from the left as seen from outside the exhibit) be closed off while he is in the Love Shack getting to know his new friend? He’s worked so hard to establish it.

    I’ve noticed that the nest box between Agulhas and Ocio is very undesirable, since Agulhas won’t let anyone near it. Will something be done so that Dunker and Kianga can make use of it?

    Thanks again for all your efforts with the penguins. They are just great!!

    Comment by Scot — January 10, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  8. Hi Mar, we currently have 14 penguins on exhibit so you almost got all of them! :)

    Comment by Penguins — January 16, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

  9. Hi Karen,

    Robben is the father of Safara’s eggs. They are not recommended to breed with each-other by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) so the eggs will not be hatched. In fact, Ocio is destined to breed with Safara and Robben will be receiving a new mate from Rochester who he is recommended to breed with. Because of this we did not replace their eggs with dummies; there’s no point in having them further solidify their bond with each-other by incubating eggs together when we know they’re going to be broken up in the near future.

    Dunker and Kianga are off in the love shack together and are doing great. They’re a solid pair that are just benefiting from having some extra space to themselves. They’re both young birds at five years old and have been keeping company with each-other for about a year now.

    Dassen’s hatch-day is April 8th, 1984 so she will turn 28 this coming spring. Pierre’s is February 16, 1983 :)

    There is an age difference between Agulhas, at 10 years old, and Sinclair, at 20 years old. However this is not something that penguins have any concept of and is generally not a problem when forming a successful pair bond. Agulhas adjusted quickly after Jahzara left. It is not at all uncommon for pairs to be separated in the wild and individuals move on quickly to form a new bond. For example, mates go out to sea and are eaten by sharks or seals and never return to their nests. The largely monogamous nature of penguins is probably one of the easiest things to anthropomorphize about them!

    Thanks for the questions and for your support!

    Comment by Penguins — January 16, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

  10. Hi Scot, we don’t have an exact date yet for the arrival of Pete’s new mate. She’ll be coming to us from Idaho so we need to wait for the weather to warm up a bit before we make plans to have her shipped out to us! My guess is she’ll probably arrive sometime in February-March so you have a few weeks at least to get in to see Pete again :)

    Pete’s nest box is actually already closed off; he’s just controlling the territory outside of it. Without a mate to help him defend it we felt it was too stressful for him to try to control and there was more fighting over it than we were comfortable with. The potential for injury is much higher when they’re fighting inside nest-boxes because they can pin/trap each-other inside. Once Pete is re-introduced into the exhibit with his new mate we’ll open it back up for him.

    You are very observant regarding that particular nest-box. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s anything we can do to make it more accessible but we have started a discussion about creating a new territory on the opposite side of the exhibit from Ocio’s. There’s already land space there we just need to give the birds a way to access it and provide a nest-box there. Hopefully it will prove to be a usable space for our birds.

    Take care and thanks as always to you!

    Comment by Penguins — January 16, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  11. I enjoyed the article in the SF Chronicle published on Monday, January 30, 2012 about the aquatic biologist Brooke Weinstein and the penguins that she cares for. How many are on her team that care for the penguins? How long did it take the other team members to get the penguins to bond with them?

    Comment by Kandace Korth — January 30, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  12. Hi Brooke, We saw the nice article about you in the San Francisco Chronicle. In it was a comment that ‘the academy has been recommended to breed three pairs of African penguins in 2012′. My understanding was that currently the pairs of Ocio/Safara and Agulhas/Sinclair are approved to breed. Additionally, both Pete and Robben are getting new mates, and I had presumed that both of those new pairs would be allowed to breed too. Is it the case that you’ll have four pairs which are allowed to breed, but that you are only recommended to actually let three of those four pairs breed in 2012? I was just curious if the SSP specifies not just who can breed, but also how many chicks each facility can have in any given year?

    As always, thank you very much for all the fun and information which you provide to all the penguin fans out here.

    Comment by Scot — February 2, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

  13. Hi Kandace, the birds only have 2 biologists that regularly care for them and these tend to be the only people they really acclimate to. There is a primary biologist who cares for them 5 days a week and then a secondary biologist who cares for them the remaining 2 days per week. Generally it takes at least a few weeks for the birds to relax around a new staff member and several months for them to fully develop a relationship. There is also a team of 4 other biologists who are trained to work with the birds for coverage needs and to provide additional support/brain-power for the exhibit. Cheers!

    Comment by Penguins — February 8, 2012 @ 9:00 am

  14. Hi Scot! Pete and his future mate (who we’ll be receiving within the next couple of months from Tautphaus Zoo in Idaho) will not be recommended to breed at this time. We will therefore have 3 pairs that we’ll be trying to breed: Agulhas/Sinclair, Ocio/Safara, and Robben/his new mate (who we’ll be receiving from Rochester NY). The SSP also does specify how many chicks each pair should produce. For all 3 of our pairs we’ll be trying to produce 2 chicks within the next 2 years. Hope this answered your questions :)

    Comment by Penguins — February 8, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  15. Hi Pam (et al)!

    I just read the comments above and googled the article in the SF Chronicle (which was AWESOME btw). I was thrilled to see all the beautiful pictures of you and the penguins and to read more about the exhibit.

    I was also interested to learn that you are travelling to South Africa this fall. How long will you be there? Are you going to be at SANCCOB or at Boulders Beach or Dassen Island or at various other islands or where? Are you going with other biologists/staff members from the Academy or from other institutions? Who will be taking over for you while you are gone?

    I have been following blogs from NEAQ personal who have ventured to SANCCOB and Dassen Island and it’s all quite fascinating. You must be beside yourself with excitement but I imagine our little tuxedo’d friends will miss you (I know I am anthropomorphizing a bit)!!

    Comment by Karen — February 8, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  16. Thanks, as always, for the information. I must say, however, that my wife and I were devastated to learn that Pete is not currently approved to breed. I hope it’s just the case that his pairing is less valuable than the other three pairs (which is your allotment for this year), not that his mean kinship value is so high that he may never be allowed to breed. Please tell me that it’s just a matter of time and Pete may be allowed to breed in future years. As you may be able to guess, Pete is our favorite penguin.

    Comment by Scot — February 10, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

  17. Hi Brooke!
    A couple of questions today:
    1. You mentioned that Homey and Pierre are not recommended to breed because of Pierre being so well represented in the North American Penguin population. What about Homey? Does she have any offspring and, if so, where are they? If not, will she be allowed to breed at some future time?
    2. You also mentioned that your beige banded couple, Dyer and Adasha, are both Pierre’s offspring. Since they are related, I am confused as to why they are both beige banded because I thought the same colored arm bands were reserved for pair bonds. Is it because they are close as siblings raised together but will eventually be paired and “colored” with other birds?
    As always, thanks for everything you and all the “calacademy” staffers do!

    Comment by Karen — February 12, 2012 @ 11:55 am

  18. Hi Again Brooke!
    I know you are giving out Valentines to the penguins this week. I was wondering if there is any chance that you could turn on the internet sound when you are handing them out so that those of us at home can hear what people have written to the penguins!!!

    Comment by Karen — February 13, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  19. Hi yet again Brooke!!
    I saw photographers with you while you were handing out valentines to the penguins today. Can you please identify where we might go to see the pictures they were taking? Also, is there an index on the Calacademy website anywhere that lists where any articles written about (or pictures/videos taken of) the penguins can be found. Being from Michigan, I would have totally missed the awesome article in the SF Chronicle if I hadn’t read about it on this blog.

    Comment by Karen — February 13, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    Loved the hatchday singing.
    Making a donation in Pierre’s honor.

    Comment by Karen — February 16, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  21. Can you tell me please how big the area is for the African Penguins and whether the area we see on the live cams is their whole area or is there an area behind the scenes? Thank you Saphira.

    Comment by Saphira B. Nrew — February 16, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

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