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Penguin Festival attracts the crowds

Last Saturday morning, a large expectant crowd gathered at Seaforth Beach to witness the release of 13 African penguins back into the wild. All the penguins were rehabilitated at SANCCOB’s seabird centre in Table View after being admitted for various reasons including malnourishment, injuries or abandonment. SANCCOB volunteers and a few lucky members of the public got the chance to tip the penguin boxes to release the penguins.

It was all part of the Penguin Festival and African Penguin Awareness Day at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, aimed at raising funds towards SANCCOB’s conservation work.

Nicola van Rhyn, one of the SANCCOB volunteers who got a chance to tip a penguin box, said, “It really was such a special moment to be a part of the festival and especially to be given the opportunity to release two young penguins. Given the status of the African penguin, it was a moving experience.”

To the jubilation of the crowd, the penguins quickly waddled back into the ocean, with a few resident penguins ccoming to welcome the new group to the colony.

Following the release, festivalgoers were entertained with live music by The Professors, an array of children’s entertainment, food, wine and craft beer tasting, and marine exhibitons by BirdLife SA, the City of Cape Town Environmental Education Trust, Two Oceans Aquarium, South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), SANParks and SANCCOB.

Eight lucky winners were treated to a tantalizing lunch cooked up by SASSI Braai Ambassadors’ teams ‘Rust and Dust’ and ‘Smoke, Sweat and Tears’, who only used SASSI-approved ingredients.

African Penguin Awareness Day is dedicated to raising worldwide awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin, the only penguin endemic to the African continent. With the help of partners such as SANParks, SANCCOB admits close to 1 500 African penguins (and 1 000 other seabirds) for rehabilitation to its centres and releases them back into to the wild to boost the wild African penguin population. Alarmingly, only 2.5% of the African penguin population remain in the wild today.

SANCCOB and SANParks extends a special thank you to the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, managed by Nedbank Private Wealth, for sponsoring the 2016 Penguin Festival and making the event a resounding success.

 African Penguin Awareness Day is being celebrated at a second penguin release and festival at the Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay on 15 October 2016. Hosted by SANCCOB and CapeNature, the event includes a snoek braai competition, community market, puppet show, educational activities and various marine exhibitions, all in the name of the endangered African penguin.

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