Applaud Compassionate Penguin Research


Target: Dr. Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg

Goal: Commend the development of a robot that studies wild penguins with little impact

In order to study wild animals in depth, many researchers will capture animals and fit them with monitors; this experience leaves many wild animals understandably stressed and fearful of humans. Those who study wild animals and affix them with these monitors wish to help the animals and prefer not to distress them any more than necessary. A group of researchers has designed a way to study these monitors without constant human interaction, and it involves a fake penguin attached to a hi-tech robot.

The robotic chick (robo-chick) contains an antenna, which takes information from the affixed monitors, studying the heart rate of the penguins that it encounters. Upon first contact with the robo-chick the penguins become slightly agitated, displaying increased heart rates and a frazzled community. However, after the robo-chick stops moving, the penguins’ heart rates immediately return to normal. Depending on the penguins’ species and colony, a few different fake-penguin aesthetics have been attempted, in order to find the look that the birds accept. In some cases, after acceptance, the chicks huddle around the robot. When a human enters penguin groups the birds display severe disruption of their colony structure, and their heart rates remain high, which makes studying them and their natural stimulants near impossible.

Robo-chick provides an accurate and unobtrusive study of penguin heart rates. Wild animal study is necessary to better understand human impact on many different ecosystems, as well as to better help animals affected by humans. Thank Dr. Yvon Le Maho for his significant influence in the robo-chick project and applaud the calm, yet informative presence that the false chick provides.


Dear Dr. Le Maho,

You have been studying many different species of penguin colonies in order to understand their heart rates in relation to their environments. Initially, the penguins within the study must be affixed with heart rate monitors, a procedure that puts measurable stress on the animal. In order to continually study the penguins’ heart rates, continued human involvement is necessary. This, of course, makes studying their natural heart rates difficult, because humans disrupt colony structure.

In order to get past this disruption and continue to study the animals, you have developed a “robo-chick,” complete with an antenna to monitor heart rates. I congratulate you for insisting that human-caused stress remains minimal while studying penguins. Your invention allows you to adequately study the birds without colony disruption and mass stress.

Thank you for keeping the penguins’ comfort and safety a priority. Your studies will only help the penguins of Antarctica thrive.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Martha de Jong-Lantink via Flickr

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