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5 degrees. It could be worse, Chicago

January 21, 2011

What are the penguins doing on January 21?

This post goes out to all visitors and residents of #Chicago this weekend. At this moment the temperature is 5 degrees outside, and I’m sure many people’s apartments are no more than 60. Fortunately I’m cozy, with a snuggie, some hot tea, and Planet Earth. Sigourney Weaver’s voice couldn’t be more relaxing. As I’m watching the “Pole to Pole” episode on @animalplanet, I can’t help but think of an exciting gift I received recently:

Planning my trip around the world

Thank you! Here I sit at about 41°52′55″N 87°37′40″W, and although its cold outside, it could be worse. The Chicago Bears will be outdoors this weekend playing for a championship. Their trained bodies, covered in muscle and fat, will endure, similar to emperor penguins. As I recently learned from Ms. Weaver, male emperor penguins during the winter in Antarctica have to withstand temperatures down to -40 (-76 when you take into consideration the wind chill caused by 100mph winds). They will go at least 2 months without food, water, or sun!

Fun facts about emperor penguins:

  1. The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all 17 penguin species
  2. After laying an egg, females will walk up to 50 miles to find open ocean where they can hunt
  3. Emperor penguins, which are flightless birds, can dive down to 1,850 feet and stay under water for more than 20 minutes
  4. Males do not sit on their eggs, they stand and protect their eggs from the elements by balancing them on their feet and covering them with feathered skin known as a brood pouch.
  5. Penguins are smart animals: They huddle together to escape wind and conserve warmth. Individuals take turns moving to the group’s protected and relatively toasty interior. Once a penguin has warmed a bit it will move to the perimeter of the group so that others can enjoy protection from the icy elements.

Eventually the Earth tilts back, they see sun again, and it warms up. In fact, currently it is summer and they are feeding, but soon the time will come to mate, lay an egg, and sit on it for 2 months during winter. For us Chicagoans, as we endure another long, cold winter, think about the emperor penguin. Whether you’re at the Bears game, running errands, or traveling about, it could always be worse.


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