South Africa

South African Penguins

The Problem

The largest threats to the survival of the African penguin are climate change, commercial fishing, plastics, human encroachment, and oil spills.

Changing ocean temperatures and an increasing need for commercial fishing to feed the rapidly rising human population have created a change in the natural food sources for penguins.  African Penguins are dependent on specific fish species, such as sardines and anchovies.  As these fish populations are negatively affected by changing waters and overfishing, penguins must swim further distances to get food.  This often results in stress on the adults and the inability to bring food back to their chicks, orphaning young penguins that are incapable of obtaining food for themselves.

Plastics in the ocean are ingested by the fish that penguins eat, which in turn are ingested by the penguins.  Many animals also become entangled in plastics.  These plastics are a leading cause of death in seabirds.

Oil spills destroy African Penguin’s natural habitat and can injure or kill thousands of penguins with each incident.

What You Can Do

Recycle your plastics and avoid single use plastics.  The ZooShop provides many products for sustainable living.

Lead or join a beach cleanup effort, to help reduce the plastics that enter waterways.

Become an educated consumer – download Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide app on your phone or visit their website.  Sustainable seafood purchases can make a difference for African Penguins.

Make a donation to penguin conservation through the Zoo.

How We Help

We partner with organizations like the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), a nonprofit dedicated to reversing the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds. In addition to sending Zoo staff to work with SANCCOB helping with rehabilitation efforts, the Zoo raises funds to support penguin conservation.

The Zoo also participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums African Penguin SAFE program, focusing on the conservation, public education, and breeding of penguins with the Species Survival Plan.  The Species Survival Plan is one of the foremost breeding programs in the world.  Seneca Park Zoo has successfully bred over 100 African penguin chicks.  Scientific knowledge gained from the success of breeding programs in zoos is being used to help assist breeding programs in situ.

At the Zoo