African Penguin Awareness Day
Do you love penguins as much as we do? Join us Saturday, October 6 as we celebrate African Penguin Awareness Day! Stop by the Penguin Passage exhibit for activities, demonstrations and even meet a penguin up-close! Pick up a schedule to find out when you can see penguins painting, playing with new toys, or waiting to take pictures with you! You can also donate to a special drawing for a chance to win one-of-a-kind animal-created artwork, interactions with other park animals and other fun prizes! Importantly, find out what you can do to protect penguins in their native habitats.
African penguins, also known as black-footed penguins, live along the coast of South Africa and eat a variety of fish, crustaceans, and squid. As such, the birds you see here love the California sun! One of the many myths about penguins is that all penguins live in the ice and snow, but this actually is not the case. All 17 species of penguins live in the southern hemisphere, but only three species live year-round in Antarctica.
The penguins that reside here range from four to 18 years of age, many of which were hatched and raised here as part of our successful breeding program. They are monogamous, keeping the same mate year after year, and you will often see pairs on exhibit resting together or grooming each other even outside of their breeding season. Penguins are also very curious and playful and you may even see penguins chasing bubbles, running after laser pointers, or playing with other toys!
While our penguins are having fun, their wild relatives are not so lucky; having recently been placed on the endangered species list. As of 2012, the African penguin population is only 2% of what it was in 1930. Factors such as overfishing, pollution, loss of breeding grounds and oil spills are all reasons for this decline. In fact, it only took two oil spills to cut the population of African penguins by 30,000 birds. Any donations we collect on October 6 will benefit SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds). SANCCOB helps to rescue and rehabilitate wild penguins after oil spills and raise abandoned chicks for release to the wild. The chicks they raise and release 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.