Friday, March 07, 2003

The footloose penguins of the San Francisco zoo are no longer trying to migrate to Brazil; the attempt, which had them swimming in circles for a couple of months, had excited what the SF Chronicle calls "worldwide interest in the fact that penguins swim."

But the perils of penguinhood persist:

[Penguin keeper Jane] Tollini worries that burrow selection, often meaner than the nastiest real estate transaction, could be a bloodbath for the more genteel Ohio birds.

Although most penguins reclaim their previous burrows, it doesn't preclude a land grab. So far, Fig Newton and Hey You have appropriated four burrows, while Louise and Charles have claimed three.

"They are little Donald Trumps," Tollini said.

The burrow wars continue until the first eggs are laid, when the birds stop trying to defend their other, eggless, burrows. Until then, manifest destiny can be lethal in the penguin world.

Over the years, three female penguins at the zoo were beaten to death when they wandered into the wrong burrows. One fatality occurred five years ago. The victim was a widow named Cruella.

Not Leona?


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