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美国饲养员为非洲企鹅当“红娘”

To Save African Penguins, Humans Set Up a Dating Service
美国饲养员为非洲企鹅当“红娘”

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When the African penguins Derek and Geirfugl were given their own room last spring, keepers at the Greensboro Science Center questioned whether they liked each other enough to take their relationship to the next level.

北卡罗来纳州格林斯博罗——去年春天,非洲企鹅迪瑞克和格夫格被安置在同一间房间。因为这意味这他们关系的升级,格林斯博罗科学中心的饲养员们想知道他们是否足够喜欢对方。

Derek was more interested in interacting with her human keepers than with other penguins. And when she did start to flirt with Geirfugl, leaning toward him and flicking her head back and forth, the male bird did not return the sentiment.

迪瑞克对与她的人类饲养员互动比与其他企鹅更感兴趣。而当她开始挑逗格夫格,把身子向他靠和把自己的头前后晃,那只公鸟却不回应。

By mid-September, though, the relationship had taken an amorous turn. On a recent afternoon, they nestled beside each other inside a plastic crate — on a nest containing two eggs.

不过到九月中旬,双方的关系已经发生了爱情的转折。不久前的一个下午,他们彼此依偎在一个塑料箱子里面——这箱子就是他们的窝,里面有两个蛋。

“Geirfugl is actually a really good mate,” said Shannon Fletcher, a keeper at the science center. “He’s done all of the collecting for their nest box. He’s been very protective of her.”

“格夫格真是一个好丈夫,”科学中心的饲养员香农·弗莱彻说。“他为他们自己的窝做了所有的收集工作。他一直很保护母企鹅。“

In the wild, African penguins, which inhabit the coast of South Africa and Namibia, choose their partners from a pool of thousands and mate for life. In captivity, the limited size of the colonies — and the need to perpetuate a genetically diverse species — make human intervention necessary.

在野外,非洲企鹅栖息在南非和纳米比亚沿岸。他们从数千个体的种群中选择性伴侣,而且持续终生。在人工饲养条件下,种群的规模有限。为了延续物种的遗传多样性,人类不得不作出必要的干预。

The African penguin population has declined more than 60 percent over the past 30 years, and the species is now considered endangered. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums runs a “species survival” program among the nearly 50 facilities with African penguin colonies, including the science center here.

在过去30年间,非洲企鹅的数量已下降了60%以上,该物种现在被认为是濒临灭绝。动物园和水族馆协会在近50个有非洲企鹅聚居的养殖场执行“物种保存”计划,这其中也包括本文提到的科学中心。

Scientists gather the genetic information on more than 800 birds held around the country and make breeding recommendations based on which are least related to one another. The facilities maintain “studbooks” that track the information and carry out prescribed breeding and transfer plans.

科学家收集在全国各地800多只企鹅的遗传信息,根据彼此相关最小的原则作出繁殖建议。各养殖场保存记录这些信息的“血统证书”,并进行设计好的养殖和转让计划。

One of the newer facilities to join the program, the Greensboro center started its penguin colony — now 17 birds — just over two years ago. As it turns out, while the science guiding the plan is fairly straightforward, penguin group dynamics are not.

作为“物种保存”计划的新成员,格林斯博罗中心在两年前开始繁殖他们的企鹅种群,现在已有17只企鹅。结果证明,虽然计划的指导原则相当简单,企鹅的繁殖可不简单。

“One day this penguin likes this penguin, and the next day, they’re not talking,” said Carmen Murray, a former senior keeper. “They’re flirting and trying to get attention, or being a bully and picking on a certain one.”

“今天,这只企鹅喜欢那个企鹅,第二天,他们就不说话,” 前高级饲养员卡门·穆雷说。“他们调情,并试图引起同类的注意,或者是欺负和捉弄某一个。”

纽约时报中英文网 www.qqenglish.com

Because penguin preferences rarely correspond exactly with species management plan mandates, the keepers are responsible for managing the penguins’ love lives, often by gently trying to convince certain birds that they fancy each other, while keeping other potential partners distracted.

由于企鹅的喜好取向很少与物种管理计划规定的取向完全一致,饲养员只好承担起安排企鹅爱情生活的责任。他们温柔地培养某两只企鹅的感情,不让他们倾心于其他潜在的合作伙伴。

Breeding healthy penguins is both a science and an art, said Steve Sarro, curator of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and coordinator of the zoo association’s African penguin program.

培育健康的企鹅既是一门科学也是一门艺术,史蒂夫·萨洛说。他是史密森国家动物园的馆长和动物园协会的非洲企鹅计划的协调员。

“The science is in the medicine and nutrition, and the art is in the keeper staff, the institutions, knowing their animals,” he said. “You need to be able to finesse your colony so you get the best out of them.”

“科学在于医学和营养,而艺术在于饲养员和养殖场对与动物的了解,”他说。“你需要巧妙地设计安排你的种群,才能得到最好的结果。”

Completed in June 2013, the glass-walled penguin enclosure at the Greensboro science center contains a 9,500-gallon pool of water against a backdrop of faux granite rocks. The penguins here lead soap-opera lives, to hear their keepers tell it.

玻璃幕墙环绕的格林斯博罗科学中心企鹅馆于2013年6月落成,这里有一个9500加仑的水池和人造花岗岩的背景。这里的企鹅好像生活在由饲养员们导演的肥皂剧之中。

When Geirfugl was bonding with a bird named Kaapse, for example, the couple took nesting too far and began hoarding rocks from the exhibit — more than 100 pounds — in their nesting box, crushing a couple of eggs. After the keepers set them up in a room with a nesting box and a few token rocks, they turned out to be wonderful parents.

举例来说,格夫格曾经与一个名为“海角”的企鹅结合,这一对儿把窝做得太远,他们把石头从展室运往他们的窝,在巢箱里囤积了超过100磅的石头,压碎了好几个蛋。在饲养员将他们安置在另一个房间的巢箱里和放了几块带标记的岩石之后,他们过得很好,养育了不少后代。

This season, Kaapse and Tux, both females, bonded with each other rather than males, because their former mates were both in keeper-designated relationships with other females. (Little is known of gender preferences among penguins; however, albatrosses are known to establish same-sex pair bonds.)

在本季度,“海角”和一只母企鹅塔克斯结合了,而不是雄企鹅,因为他们以前的性伴侣都被饲养员安排给其他雌性了。(人们对企鹅的性取向所知不多,不过,信天翁是已知会结同性伴侣的。)

When the female pair began to compete with Apollo, Tux’s former mate, and his new spouse for a nest box, the keepers gave the females one of their own, praying it would prevent Tux from sabotaging her ex’s current relationship. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

当这对全雌伙伴与塔克斯的前夫阿波罗及其雌性伴侣争巢箱时,饲养员单给了全雌伙伴一个巢箱,希望塔克斯不要破坏她的前夫的现在的婚姻关系。

Then there are the star-crossed lovers Guinn, a male with prized genes, and Jumoke, whose genetic makeup is less optimal. Guinn doesn’t much care about that.

还有一对是具有珍贵雄性基因的明星企鹅贵因,和基因构成稍逊的雌企鹅茹谋克。不过贵因倒不在乎这一点。

“Even when he and his assigned mate are doing well, he keeps coming back to Jumoke,” Ms. Murray said. Guinn would serve the species by moving on, of course, but he just can’t quit her.

“虽然他和分配给他的伙伴相处很好,但他一直回来看茹谋克,”穆雷女士说。贵因为给种群配种常更换伴侣,但他始终不离弃茹谋克。

Glenn Dobrogosz, executive director of the science center, describes managing the birds as a matter of prioritizing the long-term well-being of the species over the individual preferences of the penguins.

格伦·多布罗格斯是科学中心的执行董事,他形容他们对企鹅的管理是把鸟儿们的长期福祉放在他们的个人喜好之上。

“Some people would say that’s not fair or nice, because you’re taking a bond that has previously formed and you’re breaking it up, but we’re not seeing any negative repercussions to it whatsoever,” Mr. Dobrogosz said.

“有些人会说这不公平或太粗暴,因为你打破了他们以前的既有关系,但我们却没有看到任何不良的影响,”多布罗格斯先生说。

“Their new bonds seem to be happy. They’re getting along, they’re building nests together, they’re cooperating, they’re switching off laying on the eggs. Ultimately, 10, 20, 30 years down the road, it’s better for the species.”

“他们的新关系看来是幸福的。他们相处愉快,他们一起筑巢,他们合作,他们轮流孵蛋。结果呢,这样下去10,20,30年之后,他们的种群会更好“。

Despite the interpersonal challenges, the penguins have been very successful breeders. All seven couples designated to mate last year produced healthy chicks.

尽管企鹅之间的关系存在龃龉,但是企鹅的繁殖非常成功。去年所有七对被安排交配的企鹅全都产下了健康的宝宝。

In the wild, however, African penguins face continued threats, mostly from people. The collection of guano for fertilizer has deprived them of the material they use to build burrows. Oil spills in 1994 and 2000 killed 30,000 birds despite rehabilitation efforts. And commercial overfishing has forced the birds to swim much farther for food.

在野外,非洲企鹅面临持续的威胁,主要来自人类。鸟粪开采剥夺了他们建洞穴的材料。在1994年和2000年的石油泄漏杀死了30000只企鹅,尽管做了很多恢复工作也无济于事。过度的商业捕鱼迫使企鹅游到更远的地方去觅食。

“One hundred fifty years ago, there were millions in the wild,” said Mr. Sarro, of the Smithsonian. “Now we’re down to 18,000 breeding pairs.”

“一百五十年前,还有数以百万计的野生企鹅”,史密森的萨洛先生说。“现在我们只剩下18,000对可育种的企鹅。”

Last spring, the zoo association launched a campaign focused on restoring endangered animals’ wild populations to healthy levels. Because of their vulnerability, African penguins were among the first four species chosen.

去年春天,动物园协会发起一场运动,重点是把濒危动物野生种群的数量恢复到健康的水平。由于其濒危性,非洲企鹅是被选择的四种野生动物之一。

The association hopes captive colonies will act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, building public support for conservation efforts.

该协会希望养殖场的动物能成为代表他们的野生同类的大使,为动物保护工作争取到公众支持。

Back at the science center, Derek and Geirfugl warmed their eggs in the back room as several other adult pairs sat on eggs in their nest boxes. Two chicks born last year, Jordy and Keuchly, stood pressed together on a rock overlooking the pool of water, grooming each other’s face feathers.

回到科学中心,我们看到迪瑞克和格夫格在里屋孵蛋,还有其他几对成年企鹅也在各自窝里孵蛋。去年出生的两只小企鹅约迪和克由克里,在一块石头上站着依偎在一起,俯瞰着水池,梳理着对方脸上的羽毛。

“The yearlings are definitely practicing,” Ms. Fletcher, the keeper, said. “But they’re in that awkward teen phase. They’re trying to figure it all out.”

“一岁的小企鹅就是要练,”饲养员弗莱彻女士说。“他们正处在尴尬的青少年阶段。他们试图搞明白这个世界。“

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