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African Penguin Awareness Day Celebrations

On Saturday, 7 October 2017, SANCCOB celebrated African Penguin Awareness Day with festivities in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. The highlights of the day in both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth were the public beach releases of 20 endangered African penguins, some of which were rehabilitated and others hand-reared from eggs hatched at SANCCOB.

In Cape Town, we hosted our 15th annual Penguin Festival at the South African Navy Sports Field in Simon’s Town, in collaboration with South African National Parks – Table Mountain National Park (SANParks). This dedicated day brought public attention and worldwide awareness to the plight of the endangered African penguin, the only penguin endemic to the African continent.

At the event, conservation affiliates hosted exhibitor stands and presented informative talks, namely; SANParks, Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Shark Spotters, South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) and the Provincial Department of Water and Sanitation.

We also shared presentations of our work to reverse the decline of seabird populations, while MSC and the Department of Water and Sanitation spoke about how to adopt lifestyle behaviours such as buying sustainably caught fish and saving water during Cape Town’s drought. The Professors provided live sing-along music and children were entertained with educational activities, face-painting, inflatable obstacle courses, jumping castles and the all-time favourite choo-choo train.

Our Port Elizabeth centre in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve held its first African Penguin Awareness Day celebration in partnership with local restaurant, Something Good PE. Members of the public first gathered at Pollock Beach to see the release of seven African penguins and delight in witnessing the birds return to the wild after their rehabilitation. Other experiences enjoyed in the morning leading up to the main event included the opening of the new souvenir shop, educational tours and home pen penguin feeding. Attendees then participated in a penguin-themed 3km beach waddle from SANCCOB PE to Something Good, followed by live music from local musician, Wayne Kallis, the launch of a penguin game created especially for us by Nelson Mandela University’s Enactus group, as well as penguin-inspired kids’ yoga classes by Little Lotus Yoga Studio.

A special mention of thanks is necessary for our sponsors and supporters, who contributed to the success of both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth events for African Penguins Awareness Day:
Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), Spec-Savers South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Pick n Pay Table Bay, Something Good PE, Catchy Digital, Tavcor Motor Group, Pine Lodge, Cape St Francis Resort, RV Footwear, Untouched Adventures, Pumpkin Pumba, Anchored, Sproglets, Afri-Abseil, Ciro, Live Bespoke, and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and the Department of Environmental Affairs.

SANCCOB has been both reactive in its response to seabirds in distress and proactive in bolstering the endangered African penguin population. Public support to enhance awareness and funding such as the events which took place on African Penguin Awareness Day are necessary to create a platform to highlight the threat of extinction of the iconic African penguin species and other southern African seabirds. We have treated nearly 100 000 seabirds in nearly 50 years of existence and with the upcoming new seabird hospital we hope to continue saving thousands more for years to come.

African Penguin Awareness Day is also being celebrated with the 2nd annual Penguin Palooza festival at the Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay on Saturday, 28 October 2017. Hosted by SANCCOB and CapeNature, the event includes a penguin release at 10h00 followed by a local market and edutainment for children.

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