Saving South African Penguins
The African Penguin population has dropped from an estimated 1 million to an estimated 80 thousand. That’s a 92% decline in about 100 years. At this rate of population decrease, there will be few, if any, African Penguins left in the wild in a matter of decades. The California Academy of Sciences and zoos across North America have developed a species survival plan to maintain a genetically viable population of the penguins in captivity.
The African Penguin is also known as the “jackass penguin” for its call that sounds amazingly like a donkey. Both climate change and commercial fishing are considered the two main factors for the precipitous drop in the population. Brooke Weinstein, a biologist with the California Academy of Sciences, says, “If they were to become extinct in the wild, we work to make sure we do have a healthy population in captivity so we can look into reintroducing if conditions were to improve. I don’t think it’s too late, but I do think it’s really imperative that people do make the kind of changes that we need to make. No one wants a world without penguins.”
Reuters “Saving South African Penguins” Biologists are racing to save the South African penguin. A genetically diverse population is being kept in captivity in hopes that one day commercial fishing and climate change can be controlled enough for the birds to survive in the wild.
About the California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is a multifaceted scientific institution committed to leading-edge research, to educational outreach, and to finding new and innovative ways to engage and inspire the public.
The Academy’s mission – to explore, explain and protect the natural world – extends to all corners of the institution; from a research expedition in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, to a teacher training program in a California classroom, to an interactive game on the museum exhibit floor.