It was a remarkable Friday for a special group of kids at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta-Egleston. On Oct. 12, our penguin care team surprised patients and their families with a personal encounter from our endangered African penguins, Zuri and Zola. Patients and families had the opportunity to get an up close look at penguins and ask questions with our senior penguin trainers about their care at Georgia Aquarium.

“We have the opportunity to provide this kind of personal experience to kids that visit Georgia Aquarium on a daily basis. It’s so rewarding and special to be able to bring that same feeling of excitement to children that aren’t able to come to the Aquarium,” said Erin Morlang, Senior Trainer. 

Our visit with the kids at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta allowed us the opportunity to bring a unique Aquarium experience to those who may not be physically able to visit us and help inspire a new generation of conservationists. Soft, cuddly penguin plushes were also handed out to provide comfort and serve as a reminder of such a special visit.

Over the past 30 years, the wild African penguin population has declined more than 60 percent due to oil spills, habitat degradation and food shortages from fisheries. African penguins are sadly listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, which make our efforts at the Aquarium extremely important for helping penguins in the wild. Georgia Aquarium assists the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in Cape Town, South Africa with African penguin rescue, rehabilitation, and release.

Keep scrolling to see more heartwarming photos of our visit: