These beautiful birds are hard to miss on the beaches of Africa, distinguished by their striking black and white plumage and loud donkey-like bray. But the African Penguin is in crisis. Listed as Endangered by the IUCN, there are less than 40,000 individuals left in the wild, and the population is still in decline. Essentially, the African Penguin has declined 97% from its historic populations and it is predicted that the species could go extinct in South Africa by 2035.
For decades, the African Penguin has faced many issues resulting in population decline. Guano harvesting, egg collect, introduced predators, and marine population have historically been problematic for these penguins. Today, the African penguin’s biggest threats are habitat loss, overfishing, pollution including oil spills, and climate change. African Penguins are one of the most endangered penguin species and are in urgent need of conservation intervention. Our colony of African Penguins here at Mississippi Aquarium have an important job to act as ambassadors for their species. Caring for this species allows us to educate guests and spread their conservation message.