Why We Support Penguins

With our annual Tuxedo Trot 5K and Kids’ Fun Run just weeks away, you might be asking yourself “Why African penguins?”

Well, first of all, we love African penguins! African penguins are charismatic birds, each with their own personality that you just can’t help but adore. Have you met our colony? They’re a riot!

Secondly, these feathered folks are truly in jeopardy of extinction. The species has declined over 90% since 1900 — they are even listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which means immediate conservation action is required to prevent further declines. African penguin populations are decreasing for several reasons: food shortages, egg and guano removal from beaches, and displacement from breeding sites by other native species. However, knowing why the species is in decline also means we can work to preserve the population and hopefully expand it in coming years!

So, every year, we host the Tuxedo Trot (link) in order to raise money for these beautiful tuxedo-trot-logobirds. 100% of the proceeds from the race go to SANCCOB to support their conservation efforts. SANCCOB is an internationally recognized non-profit organization whose work helps to reverse the decline of seabird populations with a large focus on African penguins. They rescue abandoned chicks and hand rear them, they rehabilitate injured or oiled birds, they educate the locals about the importance of African penguins and they research ways to permanently reverse population declines. Tuxedo Trot funds help SANCCOB to sustain and expand their African penguin conservation efforts.

Want to help us save penguins?

If you haven’t already, please consider registering for the 2017 Tuxedo Trot and help us save these beautiful birds! If you can’t attend, please consider making a donation. Both registrations and donations are accepted online at www.tuxedotrot.com. We’re grateful for your help!

 

 

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Gift Idea: Inside Tracks

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for that special someone in your life, consider giving him or her an experience instead of a “thing” this holiday season! With three awesome behind-the-scenes experiences to choose from, Greensboro Science Center Inside Tracks programs make a great gift for any animal lover in your life!

Inside Tracks: Penguin Encountersshutterstock_257823214

Looking for a memorable experience sure to make the penguin fan in your life smile? How about an engaging experience where they will actually be within wings-width of our penguins? Inside Tracks: Penguin Encounters are the perfect gift for anyone six years old or older!

Give the gift of discovery and let your animal lover come nose to beak with one of our engaging African penguins! Participants get to go behind the scenes, talk with our experts and watch and take photos as a couple of our penguins investigate the encounter room and enrichment items. Each penguin personality is different, just like each encounter!

This “Inside Track” offers penguin lovers the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of our favorite feathered friends. This unique experience starts in the food prep area to see what’s on the menu for our whole colony; you also pick out an enrichment item for the birds that the participants will meet. Then the group will catch up with our keeper and watch a few minutes of our afternoon feeding before stepping behind the scenes to learn more about penguins in our encounter room. As the keeper wraps up the afternoon feed, he or she will join participants to interact with our penguin.

The birds that work with us in the encounters are generally well-behaved around people, but everyone has an off day. Touching the penguin is likely, but not guaranteed. Make sure the recipient of this special gift doesn’t forget the camera! This photo opp may be worthy of next year’s holiday card!

Penguin Encounters can accommodate 8 participants and cost $45 per person in addition to general admission or membership.

Inside Tracks: Aquarium Adventure

DSC_7903 2.jpg

Do you have a fish lover or aquarium enthusiast in your life? Give them an Aquarium Adventure gift certificate and show them what lies behind the scenes of an amazing aquarium! This gift is perfect for anyone eight years old and older.

The recipient of this one-of-a-kind gift will get to go behind the scenes of our aquarium, visit our animal holding areas and learn how we care for our animals and exhibits! Participants will get to see what’s on the menu for our aquarium animals, check out our maze of pumps and filters, and visit the top of the shark tank. Plus, as we await the opening of our aquarium expansion, participants will be among the first to see some of the awesome animals we’re caring for behind the scenes for these amazing exhibits!

Each Aquarium Adventure can accommodate up to 12 people, and costs $15 per person in addition to general admission or membership..

Inside Tracks: Zoo Trekzoo-trek-dsc_7446

Does the special someone in your life prefer learning about our zoo animals over our aquarium animals? Purchase him or her an Inside Track: Zoo Trek experience that will give him or her the opportunity to participate in enrichment activities and learn from zookeepers in an exclusive, behind the scenes setting!

Being an outdoor experience, Inside Tracks: Zoo Trek is only offered March – November, so the excited anticipation of what’s to come will last at least a few months! Activities on a Zoo Trek may include a face-to-face red panda encounter, sprinkling or feeding our giant Aldabra tortoises, giving our tiger or lemurs a treat, or other wonderful – and memorable – experiences! This is an active walking experience, so be sure your gift recipient is up for a bit of activity!

Zoo Trek participants will start in the food prep area to see what’s on the menu for our whole zoo and also pick up some enrichment treats to share with the animals. Then they will walk to four different animal exhibits, where they will meet a keeper and step behind the scenes. Participants will have the opportunity to  learn more about individual animals who live here and about important conservation issues surrounding their species in the wild.

Don’t forget to bring a camera or cell phone for pictures – this is another experience that just might make it on next year’s holiday card!

Zoo Trek can accommodate up to 8 individuals and costs $50 per person in addition to general admission or membership.

How To Purchase

Gift certificates for each Inside Track may be purchased online. You can either email the certificate to the recipient or download a gift certificate to give in person. If the recipient is not a member, general admission can be purchased online as well to accompany the gift.

These experiences are not set up for a party, but small groups can celebrate special occasions (like having the family together for the holidays!). All participants under 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult, with a maximum of 2 children under 16 per paying adult, making this experience perfect for the whole family!

Buy the animal enthusiast in your life the experience of a lifetime with one of our Inside Tracks experiences. It is sure to bring a smile – and plethora of memories – for years to come!

Saints, Snakes and Stout: A St. Patrick’s Day Post

Cotton Mouth 3O0A0908Do you know why one of Indiana Bones’ favorite vacation destinations is Ireland? Our resident paleontologist and ophidiophobic (snake phobia) loves Ireland because Ireland does not have any native snakes. Legend states St. Patrick, the Christian missionary, rid Ireland of all snakes in the fifth century. Upon being attacked by a slithering band of snakes he chased all of Ireland’s snakes to the sea1. While there is no doubt this is folklore, there is some truth to it. Ireland’s fossil records indicate snakes never inhabited the lush, verdant country. Researchers believe that Ireland was too cold for the reptiles during the Ice Age 10,000 years ago and with no land bridge to a neighboring country the legless species lacked the mobility to travel to Ireland2. The country did have a land bridge to England but it was overtaken by ocean long before snakes could make their way across. Sure, sea snakes could get there, but it would be too cold for their liking. While various mammal species made their way to Ireland in the past, their slithering counterparts in the animal kingdom did not make the journey.

Unlike Ireland we have many snake species in the Americas. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. From the bright green emerald tree boa, to the small worm snake these highly diverse animals fulfill a niche in our world.  With the ability to stealthily traverse on land, burrow through soil and sand and slither up trees, these ambush predators are key players in their community. They help maintain rodent, bat, frog and even other snake populations. Our native species are middle-order animals, meaning they are both prey to some animals and predators to others. They help to maintain a balance in the food web.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and in celebration of the green country we would like to spotlight the emerald tree boa.

Emerald Tree Boa 3O0A0984

The GSC is home to a young, male, emerald tree boa. This vibrantly colored, non-venomous snake is native to South America. There it can be found in lowland rainforests, typically resting in the trees above water. Their bright green color helps them blend into their lush leafy background and their white pattern mimics sunlight coming through the tree leaves. They are constrictors that prey on lizards, rodents and bats.

Ireland may be known for its lack of reptiles, but it is even more famous for its beverage of choice, beer, and more specifically, Irish stout! Legend even says St. Patrick had his own brewer. And we are all familiar with Ireland’s most famous brewery, Guinness, whose humble beginnings go back to Arthur Guinness3 in 1756.

Brews & BubblesThe Greensboro Science Center is uniting the preservation of species and hoppy beverages at our annual Brews & Bubbles. Join us on April 23rd for an evening of great beers, wines and ciders, yummy snacks, live entertainment and explore the GSC’s collection of critters. Not to worry, all snakes at the GSC are safely nestled in enclosures! But do take a moment to visit the Emerald Tree Boa and see just how majestic these specialized reptiles really are!


 

  1. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140315-saint-patricks-day-2014-snakes-ireland-nation/
  2. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080313-snakes-ireland_2.html
  3. http://guides.ie/blog/history-beer-ireland

Sustainable Seafood Sustains Penguins Too

By Alison Manka, School and SciQuarium Programs Manager

A few weeks ago, we welcomed, Pat, the newest African penguin chick to the Greensboro Science Center’s African penguin colony. This special girl spent her first months of life gulping down enormous quantities of fish, first from her parents, then from her keepers. In a mere three months, she grew from a scant 63 grams (about the weight of a C battery) to well over 2,600 grams (over five and a half pounds). This rapid growth in our penguin as well as wild penguin chicks is attributable to the steady and regular supply of fish. Unfortunately, not all wild penguin chicks are as lucky and satiated as Pat.

penguin chickMany wild African penguin parents struggle to feed their chicks. African penguins feed mainly on small schooling fish such as sardines, anchovies, and herring. Adults will travel great distances in search of these schooling fish which follow nutrient rich offshore currents. These fish-rich currents are moving farther and farther off shore as water temperature increases. As a result, penguins are forced to travel longer and farther in search of fish running the gauntlet of oil spills, discarded fishing gear, and natural predators. When the penguins finally reach the fishing grounds, there are far fewer fish to be found. The fish penguins need to survive are being harvested for human consumption at an unsustainable rate.

Seafood WatchThis sounds like a problem too big and too distant for us living half a world away to do anything about. What can we do about fishing around Africa? As it turns out, there is something that each and every one of us can do, it doesn’t cost a dime and will help penguins as well as all other aquatic animals. All we need to do to help is make sure any seafood we consume, whether from a grocer or a restaurant, is being sustainably harvested. The Greensboro Science Center is proud to be a member of Seafood Watch, a sustainable seafood resource created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium that works with government agencies, scientists, and fisheries to recommend which seafood is a best choice, a good alternative, and which to avoid. They provide this information free of charge in a pocket sized Seafood Watch guide or the free app available for iOS and Android devices. Pocket guides are available for the Southeast Region, Sushi, and in Spanish at the Greensboro Science Center. Feel free to pick up a few extra to pass out to friends.

Selecting sustainably harvested seafood is a wonderful way to help aquatic animals including penguins in the long term, but want to do more? You can help by running, walking, or waddling with us in our annual Tuxedo Trot: Run for the Penguins. This 5K race and 1K Kids Fun Run, held on May 21st 2016, benefits SANCCOB, a wonderful non-profit in South Africa that rescues abandoned chicks, helps oiled birds, raises awareness, and works on conservation efforts. 100% of the race’s proceeds will go directly to SANCCOB. This year, with your help, we are striving to raise over $20,000 for SANCCOB to aid their efforts to save the endangered African penguin.

Please help all of Pat’s wild penguin cousins by choosing sustainably harvested seafood and joining us May 21st to run, walk, or waddle in the Greensboro Science Center’s Tuxedo Trot: Run for the Penguins to support SANCCOB. Sustainable seafood sustains penguins too!

SANCCOBTuxedo Trot

Introducing Kuechly

We, here at the Greensboro Science Center, are getting excited for Super Bowl XLIX this weekend! Perhaps no one is more excited than our most adorable football fan, little Kuechly.

Kuechly On Her Panthers Blanket

Kuechly On Her Panthers Blanket

Even though our beloved Carolina Panthers won’t be playing on Sunday, Panther Pride is certainly still alive and well at the GSC… In fact, we support our home team so much that we’ve named a penguin after one of our favorite team’s players… Meet Kuechly (pictured below with her sibling at about 10 days old), who was born on December 8, 2014 to penguin parents Pilchard and Possession.

Kuechly and Her Clutch-Mate

Kuechly and Her Clutch-Mate

You might be wondering why we named this little girl after Kuechly instead of another Panther. Well… let’s just say our lead penguin keeper MAY have just a SLIGHT crush on the real Luke Kuechly. Her birds, her rules, right? (Don’t worry, fiancé Drew… she assures us her heart is still yours.)

Carmen and Kuechly: Panther Fans

Carmen and Kuechly: Panther Fans

Luke Kuechly, if you’re reading this… We’d like to invite you to come meet little Kuechly! Just let us know when your schedule allows and we’ll set up a penguin meet and greet with your namesake. We’d also love for you to join us for our second annual Tuxedo Trot on April 25, 2015 (World Penguin Day). It’s a 5K and fun run we’ve created to raise money for SANCCOB, a non-profit organization devoted to saving endangered wild African penguins. Check it out here: http://www.tuxedotrot.com/

Please note: Kuechly is not on exhibit just yet. She’s still growing in her waterproof feathers and will join the rest of her colony when she sharpens her swimming skills!

Casper, the Friendly Goat

Although he’s not yet on exhibit, we couldn’t resist introducing you to Casper the Friendly Goat this Halloween.

Casper

Casper, the friendly goat

Casper is an approximately 6 month old Nubian Goat adopted by the Greensboro Science Center earlier this week. Around 2 months ago, Casper was surrendered to the Guilford County Animal Shelter after being attacked by a dog. The shelter called Red Dog Farm, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation, fostering and adoption of animals of all sizes. The organization took Casper in and paired him with Dick Young, a foster parent, to recover from his injuries and prepare for adoption.

Casper

Casper

Dick took great care of Casper. When he first arrived at his foster home, he was injured, skinny and skittish. Dick worked with a veterinarian to treat his wounds, beef him up a bit, and help him become more sociable. Now, he seems to really enjoy being around people and should be a great addition to the Center’s Friendly Farm.

Jessica Hoffman, the Center’s Curator of Birds and Mammals, said she has been waiting quite some time for a Nubian Goat to adopt. A dairy goat known for its characteristic floppy ears, the Nubian goat is typically an affectionate animal who likes people.

Due to his young age, zookeepers are hopeful that Casper will have fun testing his skills on the agility challenges recently added to the petting zoo area by Johnson Controls. Casper is currently in quarantine, so be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information about when he’ll be joining the other goats in the Friendly Farm. You’ll be able to easily identify him… our Nigerian goats are all dark in color while Casper, as his name suggests, is white as a ghost!

Casper

Casper is white as a ghost!

Take a Never Before Offered Tour!

Have you ever wanted to tour the tiger exhibit, visit the zoo’s veterinary hospital, cruise through the crocodile enclosure, or sneak a peek behind the scenes of Penguin Point? Well, now’s your chance! For the first time ever, the Greensboro Science Center is offering select behind the scenes tours as part of a very special event.

Peek Inside a Blockhouse

Sneak a peek inside some of your favorite animal exhibits!

One of these tours, many of which have never before been offered to the public, will be included with each Red Panda Day ticket. See for yourself the answers to common questions, such as: Where do the gibbons sleep? How do you keep crocodiles warm in winter? What kind of training can you do with maned wolves? How deep is the shark tank?

Each tour will be guided by GSC zookeepers who actually work with the animals living in the highlighted exhibits. Learn about what zookeepers do, which animals they care for, how they train their animals, what types of enrichment activities the animals enjoy, and so much more!

Enrichment Items

Keepers will show guests animal enrichment items – like this tire, enjoyed by our tigers!

The following tours are offered to Red Panda Day guests:

  • Tigers, Maned Wolves, Giant Anteater
  • Lemurs, Fossa, Javan Gibbons
  • Howler Monkeys, Vet. Hospital
  • Crocodile, Tortoises, Meerkats
  • Venomous Snakes, Crocodile, Alligator Snapping Turtle
  • Fishing Cat, Asian Small Clawed Otters, African Penguins
  • African Penguin, Amazon River Edge, Open Ocean

Tour capacities are limited, so purchase your Red Panda Day ticket early for the best chance of participating in the tour of your choice! Please note that tour participants must be 8 years old or older. Children younger than 8 years old can sign up to attend an animal meet and greet in lieu of a tour. Other restrictions apply. Click here for details.

Red Panda Day is Saturday, September 20, 2014. The event includes much more than behind-the-scenes tours… Guests will enjoy breakfast in the zoo, red panda themed games and activities, cool souvenirs, the awesome feeling that comes with supporting an important conservation cause, and admission to the Greensboro Science Center for the rest of the day. Tickets are $30/person for GSC Members and $40/person for Non-Members, with all proceeds being donated to the Red Panda Network. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.