ATLANTA (DECEMBER 5, 2016) – As many were coming back from their Thanksgiving holiday, a group of penguin care team members from Georgia Aquarium made their way to Cape Town, South Africa. For the next few weeks, they will assist the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) with rescue and rehabilitation of seabirds, including African penguins.

The Georgia Aquarium team in South Africa will provide support for the first round of African penguin chicks that arrived at SANCCOB’s headquarters. Early in November, more than 400 abandoned and very young chicks were admitted. They will require a longer rehabilitation period and will need to be reared by the caretakers at SANCCOB. Alongside several assisting organizations, Georgia Aquarium penguin care experts will provide helping hands using the skills they have learned in an aquarium setting to care for and rear these rescued birds. The team may also be involved in releasing a group of rehabilitated African penguins sometime during their stay.

 “As a U.S.-based organization working towards the conservation of African penguins, working alongside the internationally-recognized SANCCOB is a great opportunity. Especially being able to provide assistance to their team during a time with a high number of abandoned penguin chicks,” said Dennis Christen, senior director of animal training, mammals and birds at Georgia Aquarium.

SANCCOB is a non-profit organization actively working to help seabird populations using rescue, rehabilitation, and release. Endangered species, like African penguins, are a high focus and SANCCOB treats up to 1,500 penguins a year. SANCCOB is internationally recognized for its chick-rearing, wildlife response, and beneficial research on behalf of seabird species.

Georgia Aquarium has been a partner with SANCCOB since 2009 providing not only emergency care and expertise, but also veterinary research and financial assistance. SANCCOB and Georgia Aquarium collaborated on the first-ever health assessment of penguin populations found naturally on South African islands and are continuing their research into what diseases and environmental conditions cause issues within these populations. To read more about Georgia Aquarium and SANCCOB’s seven-year partnership, visit georgiaaquariumblog.org.  

Georgia Aquarium has an African penguin colony of more than 50 birds and is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan (SSP). This plan promotes genetic diversity within populations of endangered species in zoological institutions. The Aquarium has hatched 26 chicks through the SSP since joining in 2012. The expertise and unique skill set acquired through studying and caring for animals like African penguins in zoo and aquarium settings help researchers and care takers better understand animals that need our help and how to best care for them, especially in times of need.

Georgia Aquarium will be providing updates from the field in South Africa, make sure to stay up-to-date on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #GASavesPenguins.

To donate or adopt a penguin chick at SANCCOB, please visit www.sanccob.co.za. To learn more about Georgia Aquarium’s work with SANCCOB and African penguin research, please visit www.georgiaaquarium.org/conserve/research/african-penguins.

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ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM

Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Ga. that is Certified Humane by the American Humane Association and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care, and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate, and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its hundreds of exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its seven major galleries. For more information, visit georgiaaquarium.org.