Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I like to write about black-and-white animals because I am black-and-white myself, and I think it is the most beautiful color combination of all.  So that's why I thought I would write about penguins, even though they are birds and not animals, but they are black-and-white.  And since penguins are birds that don't fly, they seem more like animals than like birds anyway.

It turns out that there are 18 kinds of penguins, so I had to pick one kind to write about, and when I found out there was a penguin that lives in Africa, I decided that I should write about that kind of penguin.  Because of course, basenjis are also from Africa.

Anyway, African penguins are the only penguins that breed in Africa.  And where they live is all along the bottom of Africa, mostly on islands between Namibia and South Africa.  When African penguins talk, they make a sound like a donkey braying, so they used to be called "jackass penguins."  But there are some penguins in South America that also make donkey sounds, so the name of the jackass penguins in Africa got changed to "African penguins," and that way nobody gets confused.

African penguins are about 23" to 25" tall, and they weigh between 5 and 9 pounds.  They are mostly black on top and white on the bottom, so that if you are in the water under them, they are hard to see against the light, and if you are up above them, they look dark like the water.

There are funny-looking pink glands above the penguins' eyes, and if a penguin starts getting too hot, more blood goes to the glands, and this helps cool the penguin off.

African penguins like to eat fish such as anchovies, horse mackerel, and sardines.  They live in great big colonies of penguins, and they nest in burrows that they make under the guano on the islands, or else under bushes and boulders.  Then they lay two eggs.  Both the mom and dad penguin take care of the eggs and the chicks until they are big enough to take care of themselves.  Penguins often keep the same mates for their whole lives, which I think is very nice of them.  The lifespan of a penguin is 10-15 years.

The main predators of African penguins in the water are sharks and fur seals.  The main predators when they are nesting are seagulls, mongoose, and feral cats.  It used to be that penguins were pretty safe on the islands where they were raising their babies, but now mongoose and cats live there, too.  And also people have been mining the guano -- which is a nice way of saying "bird poop" -- because they like to use it as fertilizer.  And people used to eat penguin eggs, but they don't do that so much anymore.

Anyway, nowadays, the African penguin is ENDANGERED because of the reasons I just mentioned, and also because of bad stuff like pollution, oil spills, climate change, and overfishing.  The number of African penguins today is less than 10% of what it was in 1900.

Okay, well, that is all I know to tell you about African penguins.  I hope somebody will get busy and save them from being extinct because they are such a pretty black-and-white color.  And also it's funny to watch them walk around.



    i thought this timely, at least yesterday timely.

    Your friend,
    Zest, champion Superstar in training

  2. Oh my! Who would have thought so many corgis would put up with wearing silly costumes? Did you see that there was one named Piper? That one was dressed like a witch. Also there were several very handsome black-and-white corgis. Mom and I like the Cardigan corgis best because they have nicer ears and those long tails. I wonder if Queen Elizabeth puts costumes on her corgis.

    Your friend, Piper