Working to Save Endangered African Penguins
The Maryland Zoo manages the largest colony of endangered African penguins in North America. Over the past four decades, the Zoo has established one of the most successful breeding programs in the world for this species and has developed effective protocols to guide management and care. The Zoo maintains an active and longstanding conservation partnership with SANCCOB, the internationally renowned seabird rescue and rehabilitation facility headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa that arguably has done more than any other entity in the world to reverse the decline of wild African penguins. Chicks are being increasingly abandoned by parents not able to find enough food due to overfishing in the region. SANCCOB treats these chicks during their first weeks and months until they are strong and large enough for release, having a direct effect on the endangered African penguin population numbers. Staff from the Zoo travel each fall to South Africa to aid SANCCOB in this intensive Chick Bolstering Project. The Zoo is also involved in leadership roles on multiple fronts in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ SAFE (Save Animals from Extinction) African Penguin Conservation Action Plan, which seeks to protect African penguins through coordinated conservation action, leveraging of wildlife expertise, and public engagement.