Monday, April 30, 2012
Something fishy is going on: Thefts sweep aquarium as 'criminal' penguins steal love rivals' pebbles
Gentoo penguins steal stones from rival nests as mating season beginsBy Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 29 April 2012
As crimewaves go, there's something very fishy about a series of thefts taking place at the London Aquarium.
As the mating season begins, 'criminal' gentoo penguins have been pinching pebbles from rival nests.
With a stealthy glance over their shoulders, the fiendish birds quickly waddle to their neighbours' nests, steal a stone and run back to their own breeding ground.
Stealing stones: Gentoo penguin Vladamir (left) and the object of his affection Ronnie (right) begin their annual courtship ritual... not before some serious pebble theft
Defending their nests: As the number of break-ins increase, the gentoos have become suspicious of their fellow colony members
If they notice a rival moving in to plunder their pebbles they quickly run back to defend their nests.
The colony of 10, which arrived at the attraction last year, are in the middle of their first mating season at the aquarium.
The birds build their stone nests to elevate and protect their eggs.
Smooth pebbles are 'like gold dust' because they are easy to pick up and comfortable to lie on, according to those who tend to the birds.
No eggs have been seen yet but breeders are hoping that a few will turn up in the next few weeks at the aquarium (pictured)
She said: 'Some of them are a little bit more tricky than the others, they keep an eye out for the owner of the nest before stealing. A couple of them will just run straight to a nest and will be chased off straight away.
'They just prefer a certain type of pebble. Pebbles are like gold dust to these guys.
'The male works out where he wants his nest and that is when he starts collecting pebbles. The female will join in as well after he has given her a few pebbles to place in the nest how she wants it.
'It is like giving your girlfriend chocolate.'
Ms Clark added that there has been 'a few tiffs' over pebble thefts. 'They will run over pretty sharpish and tell them where to go,' she said. 'It can get a little bit aggressive but they generally back away very quickly.'
No eggs have been seen yet but breeders are hoping that a few will turn up in the next few weeks.
The pilfering activities of pesky penguins were also featured in the BBC's Frozen Planet when crews captured Adelie penguins performing a similar thefts while filming in Antarctica.
Posted by Lin Kerns at 7:32 AM