Toronto Zoo & Wildlife Conservancy Species Ambassador - African Penguin
The African Penguin is one of the most famous birds in the world. Distinguished looking in their Tuxedo-like patterns, yet unlike their relatives, flightless. Penguins have found their own unique path through life.
In support of the Toronto Zoo & Wildlife Conservancy, we’ve added a new member to our family we’ve named Pebble. We will be working with the Toronto Zoo to bring educational experiences to our community and provide funding to support the life of “Pebble the Penguin”, committing to a 1-year Species Ambassador sponsorship of the endangered African Penguin.
“The African penguin is also known as the black-footed penguin and formerly as the jackass penguin. This medium-sized penguin has a robust body with black plumage on its back and white plumage with black markings on its chest and belly. The head, chin, throat, uppermost parts of the breast, and the whole of the upper parts are black. A broad white band commencing at the base of the bill runs above the eye, and continues around the cheeks, broadening over the upper breast.
Underparts are white with a narrow black band across the chest extending down each side of the body to the feet. A pattern of black spots on the chest is unique to each penguin, much like human fingerprints. The iris is a dark brown with a well-defined white orbital ring. They have pink glands above the eyes. The bill is black with a distinct white band across both mandibles towards the tip. The legs and feet are black. The tail is short. Wings are hardened, flat oars, fused at the elbows. Sexes are similar in appearance, the male being slightly larger and with a larger beak. Juveniles have gray-blue plumage that darkens with age.
As recently as May 2005 the African Penguins were added to the “Red List” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature making them an endangered species. These threats are no coincidence as the Penguin population has plummeted from millions in the 1900's to less than 14,000 today as a result of commercial fishing, Oil, and contaminated waters.
The reasons for the significant decline in the African Penguin populations are well known. Initially, the decline was due mostly to the exploitation of penguin eggs for food, and habitat alteration and disturbance associated with guano collection at breeding colonies (removal of the guano layer resulted in increased predation of eggs and chicks). These factors have now largely ceased, and the major current threats include competition with commercial fisheries for pelagic fish prey and oil pollution. Given an annual rate of decline of about 2% per year, there is considerable concern about the long-term viability of African Penguins in the wild.”
Toronto Zoo penguins on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TorontoZooChannel/search?query=penguin
To learn more about African penguins: https://www.torontozoo.com/animals/African%20Penguin
The Toronto Zoo is home to one of 17 different species of penguin. The African penguin is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and is at risk due to over-fishing, climate change, and oil pollution. The Toronto Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for African penguins, which ensures the ongoing genetic health of the African penguin population in human care, safeguarding genetic diversity that may have been lost.
To help save the endangered African penguin, you can:
- Make a donation to the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy: https://www.wildlifeconservancy.ca/donate
- Adopt a Toronto Zoo penguin: https://www.wildlifeconservancy.ca/adopt
- Or donate to the South African non-profit “SANCCOB”: https://sanccob.co.za/donate.php
To learn more:
Toronto Zoo & Wildlife Conservancy
Toronto Zoo Website: https://www.torontozoo.com/
Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy Website: https://www.wildlifeconservancy.ca/