Thursday, July 22, 2010

Penguin Pals: Robben II

Introducing...Robben II! Robben is a female African penguin with a yellow and gray bracelet on her right wing. She was born here at the Aquarium on July 21, 2008 (Happy belated birthday, Robben!), and her parents are Good Hope and Peeko. Check back again often, we'll be introducing them later!

Robben is named after Robben Island. Robben Island is located 7 km (almost 4 miles) off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, in Table Bay. For a small relatively flat island just a few feet above sea level, it has a very important history; not only to the African penguins but to the people of South Africa.

View Larger Map

Robben Island may be best known as the site where Nelson Mandela (former South African president) was imprisoned for almost 20 years. Robben Island has been used as a prison of some sort since the late 1600’s. But political prisoners were not the only people isolated on Robben Island; in the mid-1800’s it was also used as a leper colony, housing over 400 lepers at one time.

Penguins on Robben Island

When Robben Island was first discovered by the Dutch in 1652, the only large animals found on the island were a variety of seals and seabirds including African penguins. In 1654 the settlers released rabbits to provide an available food source for the sailors of passing ships. The rabbit population quickly grew and destroyed much of the vegetation on the island, destroying penguin breeding sites. So by 1800 the original African penguin colony was completely exterminated. It took almost 200 years for penguins to return to Robben Island in 1983. The colony has grown to over 13,000 individuals and is now the species' 3rd largest breeding colony. Currently attempts are being taken to ensure that the rabbit population is under control and will not endanger the native penguins.

Robben Island Beach

Being one of our younger penguins Robben is still trying to find her place in the penguin colony. You can read more about Robben in a future molting blog about juvenile feathers versus her adult ones! (Learn more about molting in general in this previous post, and see some funny pictures of penguins during their mold in this entry.)

Robben mid-molt at the Aquarium

- Andrea

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment