Smelly penguins are a thing of the past

Here in the Cape, we’re lucky enough to have a couple of local colonies of the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) which one can pop along and visit, should one feel the need. Summer days are obviously nicest to spend in the sun, by the sea, getting up close and personal with these curious birds; with just one rather large drawback – the smell.

Penguins eat fish (which smells) and then they defaecate (which smells). It’s like smell². In short: penguins stink.

The penguins at Boulders Beach (so called because of the huge boulders there) and at Stony Point (so called because it’s all stony)* are a huge draw for the tourists, most of whom go home with a head full of wonderful memories, a camera full of wonderful photographs and a nose full of wonderfully fishy poo. Each time I go and visit Boulders, I am reminded of the need to do something about the dreadful whiff that greets me as I open the car door. And again when I arrive there.

But now I can, thanks to an offer from The Guardian in the UK. The UK isn’t known for its penguins, but there are, of course, several zoos and wildlife parks which have penguins in them. And I’m guessing that’s the market that The Guardian is trying to corner here, with the Penguin Steam Cleaner:

psc

They’ve even made it look a little bit penguinesque, so as not to frighten the birds on approach.

The Penguin Steam Cleaner features:

  • Continuous 1600 watt high-pressure (good for repeated penguin cleaning)
  • Steam exits at 105°C (bit warm, but penguins are well insulated)
  • Powerful jet nozzle, ideal for awkward spaces (beak, webbed feet, wingpits etc)
  • And it removes creased feathers. What more could you ask for?

    It’s expensive, but I reckon that the SanParks, who run Boulders, could get a better deal if they bought a job lot. After all – they have a whole load of penguins to clean.

    I will be pitching my idea to them later this week by getting one of these wonderful devices, “borrowing” a penguin and demonstrating the myriad of benefits a steam-cleaned penguin colony would bring to both their visitor numbers and their beleaguered olfactory systems.

    * I don’t make the rules.

    Of penguins and picnics…

    I haven’t been on teh interwebs much today, but I would imagine that absolutely no-one in the blogosphere has mentioned the fact that it’s Valentines Day at all. And so once again, the responsibility of informing the world about these things falls on my shoulders. But it’s fine. I can manage. Honest.

    I had almost forgotten that the big day was coming up, but was fortuitously forewarned by a sudden and otherwise bewildering increase in the price of cut flowers. So I popped out and adopted a couple of penguins on a buy one get one free offer at SANCCOB (offer valid until end of February 2009), cos penguins is romantic: especially when kept at a suitable distance. They tend to get a bit smelly otherwise, mainly due to their ichthyophagous habits. So it’s handy to stay a whole credit card transaction away from the actual birds, cute, clumsy and cuddlable though they may appear.

    During the afternoon, we packed the kids, the pram, a picnic and the camera into the back of the car and popped just around the corner to Kirstenbosch. It may appear to the more attentive reader that we go to Kirstenbosch most weekends. And indeed, that does seem to be the case just lately. But there can be few more romantic places than Cape Town’s beautiful and almost completely penguin-free Botanical Gardens. Although initially, it seemed that we had the place to ourselves, walking on deeper into the somewhat repetitive fynbos after we had eaten, we found a myriad of courting couples.
    Fortunately, Kirstenbosch is pretty open plan, so there was no danger of coming across any naughtiness, but we sent the boy, happily and loudly singing about microwaves, ahead anyway, just to kill the mood should the mood be there. Safety first, dear reader.

           
    A Valentine’s Day Selection…

    And that was it – almost. Heart-shaped chocolate brownies and tea in front of Coupling on DVD and then a quick upload onto Flickr (actually, this is via the South African telecommunications system and someone needs to get the ADSL hamster to run faster in his little wheel up in Bloemfontein or wherever he’s kept so I’ll have to finish the Flickr stuff off tomorrow, ok?) and then I’ll wend my weary way up to bed, hoping and praying that the little one doesn’t start moaning about her erupting incisors again tonight.

    I wonder… do penguins have teeth…?