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Abandoned penguin chicks admitted to SANCCOB

151 chicks, many as young as five days old, have already been admitted to SANCCOB after being abandoned by their parents. The annual mass abandonment of penguin chicks takes place between October and January, when adults go into moult to replace their worn-out feathers with new ones. Before moulting, penguins build up their fat reserves to prepare for the three to four week feather-change process when they are unable to enter the ocean to hunt for fish. However their young have no such reserves and face starvation unless we step in.

Chicks are rescued by the colony managers and admitted in large groups to our centres in Table View and Cape St Francis, where they remain from six weeks to three months, depending on their size and condition. Nicky Stander, SANCCOB’s Rehabilitation Manager, noted that, “The chicks admitted this year are considerably younger than those admitted in previous years. Most of the chicks are between five days and two weeks old. This means that their rehabilitation period will be longer and the cost of caring for them will increase as a result. The team of staff and volunteers are working round-the-clock to ensure that each chick gets the best possible care.”

Owing to the rapid decline in population numbers, the African penguin was reclassified as endangered in 2010 and today, it is estimated that less than 2% (25 000 breeding pairs) remain in the wild. The survival of individual penguins is critical. Since 2006, SANCCOB and its conservation partners have successfully hand-reared and released more than 4 000 chicks. However, the success of this important project rests on funding to cover fish, medicine, veterinary supplies, electricity for the incubators, staff training and equipment.

Members of the public are invited to help rescue and rehabilitate these abandoned chicks by “adopting” and naming a chick. The cost is R600 (for an email pack) or R700 (for a posted pack) which includes a certificate of adoption, a photograph of your chick and a thank you letter on its behalf. From now until December The Blue Fund (Wildlands and Grindrod Financial Services) will match any contributions made by the public, effectively doubling the funds towards SANCCOB’s vital conservation efforts. If you would like to contribute to this rescue effort and play your part in saving the endangered African penguin please click here to adopt a chick.

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