ATLANTA (January 21, 2016) – Georgia Aquarium is proud to present a $40,000 contribution to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). SANCCOB, a hands-on rehabilitation center in South Africa, works to conserve and protect Southern Africa’s sea birds, including the endangered African penguin. Georgia Aquarium has been a long-standing research and conservation partner with SANCCOB, working to reduce the decline of wild populations of African penguins.

The funds were raised throughout 2015 by Georgia Aquarium’s gift shop, operated by Event Networks, through a program that allows guests to round up their purchase to the next dollar to donate to the Aquarium’s research and conservation efforts. The money will be used for continued African penguin conservation efforts by SANCCOB, and will allow for Georgia Aquarium veterinary and animal care staff to travel to South Africa to assist in those efforts.

“Without the support of our guests we would not be able to fund and support crucial research and conservation efforts,” said Dennis Christen, senior director of zoological operations, mammals and birds at Georgia Aquarium. “These generous contributions provide invaluable resources that allow us to learn more about this endangered species. By partnering with organizations like SANCCOB, we can help better preserve and care for the African penguin species, both in the wild and in accredited facilities through programs like the Species Survival Plan.”

Georgia Aquarium’s partnership with SANCCOB began in 2010 with the first ever health assessment of penguin populations found naturally on South African islands. Aquarium veterinary staff also provided emergency assistance in 2010 when SANCCOB was faced with a record number of abandoned penguin chicks. They had over an 80 percent success rate for the release of the orphaned chicks. SANCCOB and Aquarium veterinarians continue their research together on diseases and environmental conditions that affect African penguin populations to help establish the best rescue and rehabilitation responses.

 “Georgia Aquarium’s animal care staff work closely with and provide exceptional care for the African penguins at the Aquarium every day,” said Christen. “Giving our staff the opportunity to visit South Africa again and provide hands-on assistance in SANCCOB’s rescue and rehabilitation efforts is a rewarding and educational experience to be a part of.”

Georgia Aquarium will be celebrating Penguin Awareness Day, officially observed on Jan. 20, this Saturday, Jan. 23, at the annual Party with the Penguins event. Party with the Penguins will feature a free screening of Penguins of Madagascar at 9:30 a.m. in Georgia Aquarium’s Pacific Ballroom, and then continue from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with activities that will teach guests about African penguins and learn how they can help this endangered species. Party with the Penguins is included with general admission to Georgia Aquarium.

For more information on Georgia Aquarium’s African penguin conservation efforts, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org. Visit www.sanccob.co.za for more information on SANCCOB and their efforts to save African penguins and all South African seabirds.

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ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that contains more than 10 million gallons of water and has the largest collection of aquatic animals. Georgia Aquarium’s mission is to be a scientific institution that entertains and educates, features exhibits and programs of the highest standards, and offers engaging and exciting guest experiences that promote the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org