2015-10-12 - Sam Smith
Cape Town - Saturday 17 October is International African Penguin Awareness Day. The Two Oceans Aquarium will be celebrating and raising awareness across the city.
And you are already invited to join in on the fun. Sadly the African penguin, which lives along the southern African coastline, is under threat and here's how you can make a difference.
These penguins are only found in Africa and are facing extinction, as their numbers decline. Currently there are only 18 000 breeding pairs left in the country. Loss of their food is due to over-fishing and climate change and destruction of their natural habitat is playing havoc with their lives.
(Two Oceans Aquarium)
1. Mini Penguin Waterfront Waddle
The Two Oceans Aquarium has put together a number of activities for the day. The annual mini Penguin Waterfront Waddle is the first event. This year's 2,5km race starts and finishes at the Aquarium. Participants should dress-up in black and white to show support of the penguins. Get there early, 08:30 am for complimentary beverages before the race. The waddle begins at 09:00am. Waddlers should bring their own water.
2. Have your picture taken with Samantha
The Aquarium’s Penguin mascot, Samantha will join in with the crowd. Make sure you share your photos on social media too.
3. Film screenings
We can assure you that there is more to penguin cinema than Happy Feet. Guests can enjoy a screening of the City Slickers – a tale of two African penguins.
4. Paint a penguin portrait
At the AfriSam Children’s Play Centre, the little ones can get creative with penguin arts and crafts.
5. Make a promise to the penguins
Everyone should make a ‘Penguin Promise’ in support of the awareness campaign. Once you've picked a promise and have chosen to make a change, share it with your friends too. A promise only costs R2 from Penguin Promises.
6. Respect the penguin colonies
The African penguin is the only penguin species found on the continent, says Two Oceans Aquarium. The also inhabit the Namibian coast in the west and Algoa Bay in the east. They are full of energy and life, but do not fly. So a lack of food could is a serious threat to them. Capetonians are lucky to be close to penguin colonies. Two of these are land based. The first colony is at Boulders Beach, second at Simon’s Town, third Stony Point and then Betty’s Bay. Other colonies are situated at Robben Island and Dyer Island near Gansbaai.
If you are looking for a place to see these cool dudes doing what they do best, go and visit them at these places across the country.
7. Stop poachers when you see it happening
According to Two Oceans Aquarium, at the end of the century, the African penguin population, was approximately 1.5 million. Today under 60 000 survive. Human activity is to blame for the shocking decline. Millions of African penguin eggs were collected and consumed as a ‘delicacy’. Penguin guano, used for fertilizer was removed in masses from the islands where the birds nest.
This destroys the birds nesting system. The African penguin digs into the thick layers of guano to create nests for their eggs and young. Without the guano, the eggs and their young are in the open and exposed to predators. It is now prohibited to remove eggs and guano. Sadly the damage is done already.
8. Clean up our oceans
Oil spills and food depletion are some of the serious dangers penguins are facing. Two Oceans reports that when a penguin is covered in oil, their feathers lose their waterproofing. When this happens, they can no longer swim or find food. A natural reaction to both humans and animals when dirty, is to clean themselves. When the penguin tries to clean the oil, it then ingests it, leading to serious illness and death.
For further information on how to make a difference to our precious penguin species, go and celebrate the sweet fellas at the International African Penguin Day at Two Oceans Aquarium.
What you need to know
WHAT: International Penguin Awareness Day
WHERE: The Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town
WHEN: Saturday 17 October 2015
TIME: 8:30 am for
INFO: Dress in black and white for the penguins