Dec 22

The Great Penguin Rescue

The formal-looking Penguin has captured the public’s attention for ages, but now this beloved species is a facing a growing problem. Since the end of November 2010 a growing number of African Penguin chicks have been abandoned and are in need of urgent help.

Over a hundred years ago there were reports of mass chick deaths due to abandonment - but this more recent, large scale abandonment of chicks is now critical, due to low number of birds left in the wild. For several penguin colonies, chicks that hatch late in the season are the most vulnerable. The problem stems from the adult penguins molting season. When they begin to shed their old feathers and grow new ones, they lose their ‘waterproofing’ and therefore are unable to swim, catch fish and feed their chicks. This often leaves their defenseless chicks prone to dehydration, heat exhaustion, starvation and death.

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) has put out a call for help for these vulnerable creatures whose populations have dwindled more than 60 percent in the last three generations. This drop has given the African Penguin the dubious distinction of being labeled as Endangered on the Threatened Species list.

Luckily, there is hope. Research shows that hand rearing African penguins has a significantly positive effect on conserving the wild population. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has reached out to our feathered friends with grants and experienced staff to support emergency efforts. In this case, perhaps a helping hand (literally) will be just the thing to help the precious Penguin preserve its place as one of the world’s most beloved birds.

Related Stories