As many of you may know, penguins are in deep trouble. The populations of most penguin species have plummeted by 90% during the last 50-100 years. Of the seventeen species on earth today, twelve are currently listed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Highly Endangered; some species only have 1,000-2,000 individuals left. There are a number of threats to their survival – primarily disturbance by man. From global warming, to overfishing, to oil pollution, to introduced predators, to habitat encroachment and more; our presence has been detrimental to penguins in a number of ways.
But there are things you can do to help save these charismatic seabirds from extinction. One of the most direct ways to help them is to donate to established penguin rescue, research and conservation organizations. My mission is to raise both awareness and funding to help protect penguins. Therefore, when I founded my educational company, The Penguin Lady, I made a personal commitment to donate 20% of the proceeds from every public appearance to these groups. A portion of the proceeds from the book I’m writing about the historic Treasure oil spill rescue (during which 40,000 penguins were saved from an oil spill) will be donated to these organizations as well.
The organizations on today’s list are all penguin rehabilitation hospitals. If you know of a rescue center that I’ve neglected to mention here, please feel free to contact me so I can add it to the list. Many of these organizations raise funds through ‘adopt a penguin’ programs - you can also become a member or leave a bequest to them. I will add a separate list of groups dedicated to penguin research and conservation later this week.
SANCCOB - South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. Founded in 1968, SANCCOB has saved the lives of about 80,000 African penguins. Most of these birds had been rescued from oil spills. Even in years without an oil spill, SANCCOB rescues about 1,000 penguins that have been oiled due to passing ships illegally dumping contaminated bilge and ballast water. To help SANCCOB save African penguins visit: www.sanccob.co.za
Penguin Foundation in Melbourne, Australia. Home of the adorable Little Blue (or Fairy) penguin. The popular ‘penguin parade’ occurs nightly at Phillip Island, when these tiny penguins gather in large groups (called rafts) before coming ashore from their daily foraging trips. The associated penguin hospital rescues and rehabilitates injured and oiled Little Blue penguins. To support the Penguin Foundation visit: www.penguinfoundation.org.au
Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust in New Zealand. This organization is working very hard to save the highly endangered Yellow-Eyed penguin. There are fewer than 2,000 of these beautiful and unusual looking penguins left on earth. Their unique breeding behavior – of not wanting to be within 60 feet of the next penguin nest – has led to the huge decline in their numbers. Most of the trees and scrub in New Zealand have been cut down to create pasture for millions of sheep, thus destroying the penguins’ nesting habitat. To help save these rare penguins visit: www.yellow-eyedpenguin.org.nz
DICT – Dyer Island Conservation Trust in South Africa. This organization is dedicated to preserving the wild populations of African penguins. One of their main projects is creating artificial nests for the penguins. This species historically dug burrows in deep layers of dried guano (seabird poop), but this guano was all removed and sold as fertilizer, thus destroying the penguins’ nesting habitat. The DICT has installed fiberglass burrows on the penguins’ breeding islands, which the penguins have been successfully using. To donate an artificial breeding nest visit: www.dict.org.za
Penguins Eastern Cape in South Africa. While SANCCOB generally takes in penguins found injured and oiled on the Wester Cape of South Africa, Penguins Eastern Cape is a newer rehabilitation facility that cares for African penguins that are rescued from the Eastern Cape (about 500 miles away). To help this centers’ penguins visit: http://www.penguin-rescue.org.za/
Katiki Point Penguin Charitable Trust in Moerkai, New Zealand. This small rescue center cares for injured and ill penguins on the South Island of New Zealand. They maintain two Yellow-Eyed penguin reserves in the area, and take in birds needing care. Other penguin species that occasionally find their way to their hospital are Little Blue penguins and Fiordland penguins. They are in need of more funding to keep their facility up and running. To help them help the penguins visit: www.penguins.org.nz
These organizations rely completely on donations to carry out their critically important work saving oiled, injured and ill penguins. You can help save penguins – from needless suffering and from extinction – by contributing generously to these rescue centers.
Dyan deNapoli – The Penguin Lady