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24 April, 2023

Penguins are in peril – here’s how you can help

Birkenhead House

World Penguin Day – and why it matters

Even if you’ve never met a penguin in the wild, they’re an instantly recognisable sight. However, despite their cultural impact (from chocolate bars to Batman villains), not everyone is aware of the challenges that the world’s penguins face.

That’s what World Penguin Day is all about – so put any plans you have for Tuesday, April 25th on ice and spend the day learning more about these amazing birds and how we can help protect them.

Penguins around the world

Penguins are some of the most remarkable birds on the planet. Endearingly clumsy on land, they are instantly transformed in the ocean into graceful, agile creatures thanks to their ability to ‘fly’ underwater.
In nature, they are exclusively found in the southern hemisphere, so the only place that you might see them close to a polar bear is at a zoo. While the African penguins on Boulders Beach near Simons Town enjoy a relatively mild climate, their cousins in Antarctica are renowned for their ability to withstand very harsh conditions, including extremely cold weather and winter nights that can last for months at a time!

Photo by Delaney Van (

People love penguins!

Emperor penguins especially are renowned for the way they care for their young – and for the very ‘modern’ approach the males have to fatherhood. This includes sheltering the eggs and then the chicks on their feet (to keep them off the ice), as well as trekking vast distances across the ice to collect food for the chicks.

Penguins are also rather stylish creatures, with their black and white ‘outfits’. Some species also have eye-catching orange and yellow crests and ‘eyebrows’. These factors add up to making penguins beloved around the world – even in places where they aren’t found.

Penguins in peril

Despite all this love for penguins from humans, many species are under threat. Challenges that penguins face including habitat loss and reduced food supplies due to global warming and the melting of ice sheets. Ocean plastic is another hazard – penguins can get tangled up in old fishing line, or mistakenly swallow plastic items that look like food. Oil spills are also very dangerous for penguins.

Penguins closer to home

From The Silo Hotel or La Residence, a visit to Simons Town makes a very worthwhile excursion. A highlight is a visit to Boulders Beach or Dyer Island to see the most northerly penguin colony on Earth. These penguins are quite used to people, and they are also special in another way – they are one of the main species protected by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). SANCCOB is a non-profit organisation that works rescues, rehabilitates, and releases penguins and other seabirds that have been affected by pollution, disease or extreme weather events.
At the SANCCOB rehabilitation centre in Cape Town, sick and injured penguins are cared for with the aim of eventually returning them to the wild. SANCCOB collects and hatches abandoned penguin eggs and conducts penguin research and conservation initiatives.

The Royal Portfolio Foundation is proud to partner with and support SANCCOB, and help to ensure that these iconic birds can thrive on South Africa’s shores. You can help by donating to the Foundation, or by visiting the SANCCOB rehabilitation centre and adopting and naming a penguin of your own.
That’s all for now; we have to waddle off and celebrate World Penguin Day!

Follow this link to donate to this vital conservation initiative.

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