Share This


Percentage of African penguin populations that have been lost.

A large colony of penguins gathered on Boulders Beach, South Africa

A large colony of penguins gathered on Boulders Beach, South Africa.



The Disappearing Colony

Penguins are colony animals. Safety in numbers! But with their homes destroyed, African penguins aren’t able to reproduce, and their colonies are dwindling. Penguins bond and mate for life, and they need a safe place to raise their families. Until babies are big enough to fend for themselves, penguin parents rely on nest burrows to keep their families safe from predators, wind, and the heat of the African sun.



Molting penguins sunning themselves on Boulder Beach.

Molting penguins sunning themselves on Boulder Beach.


African penguin feathers in the area the size of a quarter.

Feathered Friends

Penguins need fluffy, clean, dry feathers, so oil spills are catastrophic events. The oil is like thick sticky tar, and glues their feathers together. Oiled birds can’t clean themselves, and can’t get warm or dry. Getting oiled means starvation, too: unable to swim without its warm, protective feathers, the bird can’t catch the fish it needs to survive. The only hope for an oiled penguin is to be rescued and hand-raised until it can be returned to the wild.

a pair of African penguins sitting on a white sand beach

Together, we can
turn things around.


Increase in penguin population, thanks to conservation efforts.

African penguins being released from cardboard boxes

Rehabilitated birds are released back to their home colonies in the wild.



A Global Community

San Diego Zoo Global is leading the fight to end extinction for species like the African penguin. Working with partners around the world, we’re building artificial nest boxes for penguin families to call home. We’re also on the shorelines of South Africa supporting the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of penguins who have been oiled, abandoned, or injured.



African penguin protecting her nestling as it sits in a grass nest on a beach

An African penguin mother protects her nestlings.


 African penguins we help rehabilitate each year.


These efforts can take days, weeks, months, or years, depending on the individual bird’s condition. We’re dedicated to saving our dapper friends, but we can’t do it without you.

Penguins sitting on white beach sand in front of a large boiler and the sea in South Africa