Thursday, February 5, 2009

This Valentine's Day--Say it with a Penguin!

Say it with penguins
Environment Writer
February 04 2009 at 05:59AM

Valentine's Day gifts can be a headache: flowers wilt, chocolates are fattening and cards can be cheesy.

So here's a Valentine's gift with a difference - give your loved one an African penguin.

It might not be everyone's idea of a romantic present, but it's certainly different - and it's for a really good cause.

Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) has even set up a "Valentine's Day special": if you take one penguin, you get another one free.

But before thoughts of penguin poop and midnight squawking put you off the idea, you should know that the best part of this Valentine's Day gift is that it is a "virtual" gift.

You pay for the penguin, but the little creature stays firmly at Sanccob's rehabilitation centre in Table View. What your loved one gets is a photograph of the penguin, a certificate to say it's theirs - and a warm, fuzzy feeling that they're helping support the recovery of one of the country's seriously threatened birds.

Venessa Strauss, head of Sanccob, believes Valentine's Day is not about romantic love only, but also about "the heart of caring".

"It's a gift that lasts, one that makes a difference, unlike a bunch of flowers that won't last the weekend.

"It's part of our adopt-a-penguin fund-raising campaign which goes a long way to help us care for the penguins at the rehabilitation centre, to pay for their food, medication and treatment," Strauss said.

Be warned: this gift will set you back more than a card and a bunch of flowers. It costs R500 to adopt a penguin - although on the Valentine's Day special you get an extra one free.

"African penguins' numbers are declining. When the ship the Treasure sunk off Cape Town in 2000, there were 200 000 penguins. Now there are just 23 000 breeding pairs.

"Penguins are what we call an 'indicator species', because they tell us about the health of the oceans.

"What this decline in penguin numbers is telling us is that the ocean is sick. That's serious not only for marine creatures that depend on the oceans, but also for humans, because we depend on the oceans as well," Strauss said.

See or e-mail or telephone 021 557 6155.

Pic courtesy of Flickr

Story courtesy of IOL News@

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