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.

    The Curse of The Stig

    In news that has shocked the world, and just a week after he was revealed as the human face of Top Gear’s “The Stig” , comes the sad news of the death of Michael Jackson. Few would argue that Jackson’s story was amongst the most incredible in modern day history. Having released the best selling album of all time in 1982, Michael went on to win no fewer than seven Formula One Drivers Championships, while successfully defending himself against allegations of child molestation and, less successfully, of being German.

    Jackson’s trademark was the Moonwalk, in which he would go out on slick tyres on a wet track and spin backwards around the circuit, while the wheels would actually appear to be going forwards. He was also famed for wearing one glove while driving (and often, another glove on the other hand). 

    Michael’s family played a large part in his career, most notably in Scream, a 1995 duet with his youngest sister Janet, and also many on-track duels with his younger brother Ralf who drove for Williams. In addition, bizarre allegations surrounded whether Michael and his sister La Toya were actually the same person and, while these rumours were discounted, Ralf did – at one time – drive for Toyota, who was Jackson’s older brother.
    You can see where the confusion arose.

    The most successful part of Michael’s career was spent with Ferrari, during which time he released the critically-acclaimed album Bad. A track on the album, called Speed Demon was his tribute to Jeremy Clarkson, and featured the lyrics:

    I’m Headed For Gambon, It’s On My Mind
    And Coming Round The Follow-Through, I’ve Got To Be On Time

    while Man in the Mirror was seen by many as a dig at Jacques Villeneuve, who regularly finished behind him in races.

    Jackson was also infamous for his repeated visits to plastic sturgeons around the world and is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the tacky “plastic singing fish” craze which swept across America in the late 1990s.
    His nose was also made of plastic, but didn’t sing.

    His final revelation, that he was racing driver “The Stig”, came as a huge surprise to fans of Top Gear and Jackson alike. However, doubts still exist as to the veracity of the claim and many believe that the revelation was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Commentators pointed to the lack of sequins on The Stig’s racing suit and his apparent fear of children.
    However, the transformation of the ‘tamed racing driver’ from black to white while the King of Pop underwent the same change is surely solid evidence that Michael Jackson was indeed The Stig.

    He will be sadly missed. He touched many people (and now they can’t sue him).

    Is F1 legend Michael Schumacher really The Stig?

    Is F1 legend Michael Schumacher really The Stig?

    No.

    Nothing to see here

    My wife brought home a DVD called Body of Lice and there wasn’t a single louse in it. Just Leonardo diCaprio and Russell Crowe.

    Since I have a passing interest in Anoplura (from my days dignosing infestations with the same) – frankly – I was very disappointed.

    In other news, Opera Mini doesn’t work with WordPress 2.8. More disappointment.

    Rogue Abyssinian is a menace

    The batty residents of Claremont are at it again in the invaluable Southern Suburbs Tatler:

    To the owner of the roaming Abyssinian cat in the Lynfrae Avenue area: your cat comes into my home on a daily basis to eat my cats’ food, to urinate in and against my kitchen cupboards and other furniture, and terrorise my cats who are feeling violated and insecure in their own home.
    I have to clean up after your cat, buy extra cat food, purchase various cleaning materials to clean up his mess and tolerate the inconvenience of trying to keep him out. My house reeks of your cat, and it is very embarrassing.
    I have walked around knocking on neighbours’ doors to find the owner of this cat, and several people told me that they have to endure the same problems caused by your cat.

    Dr Elzabé Dürr-Fitchen, Claremont

    So many images. Not least the poor “violated and insecure” cats in their own home. How does one identify those sorts of traits in felines? Low self-esteem? Self-loathing? Lots of sleeping near heaters?

    These are the risks you take when you have pets – the chance that someone else’s bigger pet will come into your home, eat their food and pee on your cupboards. I see it as a metaphor for life. You’re either a big fish in a little pond or someone comes into your home, eats your big fish and pees on your cupboards. But is writing letters to the local rag – however heartfelt they may be – really the way to go about solving the problem? And isn’t “tolerating the inconvenience of trying to keep him out”, a little dramatic?

    Because – and sit down, because here’s a plan – why don’t you close your door?

    I have found that even the most agile of felines find it near impossible to navigate their way through a couple of centimetres of solid wood. No matter how hard you throw them. In trying this method, you’ll probably come across other unforeseen benefits of door closing. Not only will rogue Abyssinian cats be kept out, but so will other annoying things like wind and rain and leaves and burglars. And, as an added bonus, things like warmth, your TV and your laptop will remain in your house.

    With the lack of support they’re getting in this worrying situation, it’s only a matter of time before the good doctor’s cats take matters into their own hands, follow the rogue Abyssinian home and wreak havoc upon his house by going in and sleeping near their heaters. Unless his owners have taken the radical step of closing their door, of course.

    I must, however, mention that while living in Oxford back in the mid-90’s, I did experience a similar problem to that suffered by Dr Komplik8ed-Sürñåmê, whereby a neighbour’s cat came into our kitchen and pee’d against the cupboards. Once.
    However, rather than writing to the local freebie newspaper in an effort to trace its owner, I was more proactive, trapped it in the kitchen and then took a broom handle to it (in the style of the Maid from Tom and Jerry, but without the fat legs) and soundly beat it until it was black and red.

    That seemed to sort the problem out almost instantaneously: once released (I helped it over the garden fence), it never came back. Although I too had to purchase various cleaning materials to clean up the mess.

    Anyway, bye for now, Abyssinia.
    (sorry)