African Penguin Awareness Day October 15
Join us on Saturday, October 15 for African Penguin Awareness Day! In addition to seeing our colony of African penguins on exhibit, our animal care staff will bring out penguins for you to meet up close. Stop by Penguin Passage to see penguins painting and playing with new toys; you can also take a selfie with one! Donate a minimum of $5 and be eligible to win one-of-a-kind animal artwork, a chance to meet other animals in the park, and other fun prizes. Stop by our booth at Penguin Passage on the sea side of the park to find out why we love penguins and learn how you can help protect endangered wild penguins.
African penguins, also known as black-footed penguins, live along the coast of South Africa, with a diet of fish, crustaceans and squid. While common thinking is that all penguins live in the Arctic with ice and snow, this is not the case. All 17 species of penguins live in the southern hemisphere, yet only three species live year-round in Antarctica.
The penguins in our colony range in age from one to 16-years of age. Most of our birds were hatched and raised here as part of our successful breeding program. African penguins are monogamous, in that they keep the same mate year after year. You will often see long-time pairs on exhibit resting together or grooming each other even outside of their breeding season. If you’ve observed them long enough, you probably noticed that they are also very curious and playful! Our animal care staff have the very tough job of providing toys and activities for the penguins. You might see them on occasion chasing bubbles or laser pointers, or playing with a host of other toys.
Unfortunately, their wild counterparts are sadly not doing well, and were recently placed on the Endangered Species List. As of 2012, the African penguin population is shockingly only 2% of what it was in 1930. Over-fishing, loss of breeding grounds and oil spills are all probable explanations for this decrease. In fact, it only took two oil spills to cut the population of African penguins by 30,000 birds. All monies donated on October 15 will benefit SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds). SANCCOB not only helps rehabilitate wild penguins after oil spills, but they also raise chicks for release to the wild, which have a much higher chance of surviving to breeding age, helping to boost the wild population. Researchers at SANCCOB are also doing important research on other species of seabirds in South Africa.
For more information, please visit www.sanccob.co.za.