I daydream about being a Disney princess…but it isn’t for the princes, the fancy castle, clothes, or even the books (I know *gasp*!) its because I secretly wish that I could whistle (ok, I can’t even whistle in the first place…) and animals would come walk over to me. Sure there are some animals that are more interesting than others, but I’m fascinated by most of the animal kingdom and the fact that some zoos offer close up encounters is my new favorite.
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to participate in such an encounter at the Gulfarium in Florida. I was able to interact with the amazing winged creatures known as penguins, and basically became imprinted with them. I tried to deny it for awhile, that I wasn’t really in love with them, but no one bought it.
Later, I found out that there were specific awareness days for Penguins, days set aside to bring awareness to the species. I was in a school in January so I wore all of my penguin gear: tacky sweater, jewelry, etc cetera and shared that I was bringing attention to them. Then, the teacher asked, “why are you bringing attention to them? Are they endangered?” cue me stammering like an idiot. “umm..I think so?” (I think in my mind I was just bringing attention to the fact that they are cute, and NOT mostly native to cold climates)
Thus began research. Many penguins are endangered. The penguins I feel in love with, South African penguins, are in danger every year as they live around the coast of South Africa. During the summers many ships carrying large amounts of oil crash endangering the lives of marine life. The oil poisons the birds, as well as coats their feathers, destroying their water proofing abilities, thus making them unable to enter the water to feed themselves or their families. This pictures are pretty heart breaking, and there’s a cool documentation of the worst oil spill in recent history (2000) in: The Great Penguin Rescue
Right now is chick breeding season, and sometimes chicks are abandoned by their parents, so SANCCOB comes in to hand rear them (a very tedious and pricey process). It is important that they help to support the species in this way because there are only 25,000 breeding pairs of South African penguins, and those are always in danger of oil spills reducing their populations and disrupting their mating/breeding cycles.
So, since December is related to penguins, I thought it would be fun to forgo gifts for my birthday this year and ask for penguin adoptions instead! There are many organizations and I’ll include the links below. There are organizations that are working in the countries, but there are also plenty of zoos with breeding programs that are also working to increase the populations. Some of the penguin adoptions are pricey, so feel free to make a smaller donation if that is better for you. Let’s save the penguins!
Adopt a Penguin
–SANCCOB Saves Sea Birds – Adopt an egg, a chick, or a “home pen penguin” If you adopt a chick you can name it, and they’ll release it. There will be no further information after they release it. Amounts are in South African currency. R700 is about $50 for reference. Right now, through the end of December, donations are doubled through a local donor.
Richmond Zoo -the amazon wishlist of the Richmond Zoo. Not sure if they listed items for penguins, but I know they have a South African penguin breeding program.
Maryland Zoo Giving Tuesday Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of breeding pairs of South African Penguins in North America. On Giving Tuesday all donations will be doubled. They also offer symbolic animal adoptions.