More than 430 African penguin chicks are at risk of starving to death if Bristol Zoo cannot raise £20,000 by Christmas.
As the parents enter their moulting cycle they abandon the penguin chicks. If they are not feed by humans they will starve. This year fish prices have skyrocketed, the penguin chicks have started coming early and they are not slowing down leading to extra funds being needed.
Only 18,000 breeding pairs of African penguins remain in Souht Africa. They are already an endangered species and fish supplies near their colonies are dwindling.
The lack of food means the penguins are needing to make longer trips to find food. As they are away for longer the chicks get less food and take longer to grow. The moult stops them from entering the water but the chicks are not ready to go find their own food yet. As such the parents abandon them and they starve.
As this species is endangered it is important that each chick is saved. African penguins face a serious risk of extinction and it would be a shame to lose them due to the loss of their food.
Bristol Zoo began working with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCOOB) to hand rear the chicks and rehabilitates those which have been injured in oil spills.
Depending on the size and condition of the chicks at rescue it may take from 6 weeks to 3 months to treat them. They must be a suitable weight be in healthy condition and have waterproof feathers before being released. Luckily these chicks have the same survival and reproductive rates as their wild counterparts. This was discovered through a study by University of Cape Town, SANCCOB, Cape Nature and the Bristol Zoological Society.
Along with these organisations the South African government (Department of Environmental Affairs), Cape Nature, Robben Island Museum and South African National parks assist with the recovery project.
To help save the 430 penguin chicks go here to help – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/penguinappeal
Photo Credit: Bristol Zoo