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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 in South Africa.



The Disappearing Colony

Penguins are colony birds⁠—there is 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, strong winds, 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 the African penguin population, thanks to conservation efforts.

African penguins being released from transport boxes

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



A Global Community

San Diego Zoo Global works with partners in Africa to help penguin populations recover. We’re building artificial nest boxes for penguin families to call home, and we’re helping rescue, rehabilitate, and release penguins who have been oiled, abandoned, or injured.



African penguin protecting her chicks in a grass nest on a beach

An African penguin mother protects her chicks.


Number of African penguins we help rehabilitate every year.

Rehabilitation efforts can take days, weeks, months, or years, depending on the individual penguin’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 South Africa
rhino mom and baby


Without visitors to offset our ongoing costs, your support is more crucial now than ever before.

Your tax-deductible gift will care for wildlife at the Zoo and Safari Park and provide a sustainable lifeline for endangered species worldwide.