We have four African Penguins at the park, including Ying, the oldest Female African Penguin in the UK. You can find them at the top of the Dinosaur Domain with Oscar, our Great White Pelican.
These penguins are currently found mainly in South Africa, where they inhabit 24 islands, located between Namibia and Algoa Bay, near Port Elizabeth. They spend most of their time at sea, but nest on rocky islands with breeding couples taking shelter in burrows or behind rocks/shrubs.
Penguins wild diet consists of fish, squid & crustaceans.
Penguins are monogamous, the couples return to the same place to breed every year with their colony. They lay 2 eggs in burrows or scrapes in the sand, with both parents incubating for 40 days. 1 egg normally hatches, and the chick is looked after for another month by parents before joining a creche so the parents can forage. After 3 -5 months the chicks go to sea and return to the colony after 12 – 22 months to molt into adult plumage.
Unfortunately the main threat is from humans – fish consumption leading to over fishing, global warming negative effects on fish stock and also oil spills into the ocean. There has been a huge drop in numbers over the last 100 years so conservation to protect the numbers are vital with SANCCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) working to rescue, rehabilitate and release the birds back into the wild population.
They are also known as ‘jackass penguin’ as they have a loud, donkey-like bray.