The National Aviary is leading efforts in the protection of African penguins.
A hundred years ago, there were an estimated 1.5-million African Penguins – now only 10 percent of that population remains. In September, the penguins, which breed in Namibia and in South Africa were placed on the endangered species list.
Steven Sarro, Director of animal programs at The National Aviary says there are several causes for the decrease in their population – such as the increase of commercial fisheries, current changes due to climate change and habitat destruction and modification – like oil spills.
"When an animal becomes endangered, you’re taking a member of the web of life out of the equation. It’s sort of like the butterfly effect, if you remove one piece of the puzzle that impacts other pieces of the puzzle in that eco-system, he said.“
On Tuesday, the aviary announced that it received accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They are now part of the Association’s Species Survival Plan, a breeding program that aims to preserve genetically diverse populations of endangered and threatened species.
The Aviary hopes to see the birth of its first African penguin chick within the next year.