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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

+ About African Penguins

Are there penguins in Africa?


Yes! African penguins are a “warm weather” penguin species, and they are the only penguin species native to the African continent. Of the eightteen types of penguins: four are true Antarctic penguins, and 14 can be found in temperate zones. Eight species are almost exclusively temperate/warm weather (African, Yellow-eyed, Magellanic, Galapagos, Humboldt, Little, Fjordland, and Snares).




Why do we need to save African penguins?


They are a valuable indicator species, meaning, biologists study them to infer conditions about their ocean habitat. Unfortunately, their population has dropped by 99% since the 1800’s due to human-related causes.




How many African penguins are left?


There are just over 50,000 left in the wild today. That’s less than 20,000 breeding pairs.




What did humans do that affected African penguins?


Destruction of nesting habitat, egg harvesting, oil spills, climate change, and overfishing have been the primary causes of African penguin population decline.




Why do they need nests?


Historically, these penguins would protect themselves and their chicks from sun and predators by burrowing in guano.




What is guano?


It is nutrient-rich poop produced by various seabirds and bats. Beginning in the 1800s and continuing through the mid 1900s it was harvested by humans and sold world-wide for use as a fertilizer.




Why can’t we move them somewhere else?


These penguins nest in very specific locations near their food which are small fish like sardines and anchovies. Island habitats also provide protection from many predators that live on the mainland.




Will the guano fields return in the near future?


Unfortunately, no. It took seabirds thousands of years to deposit enough guano for burrowing to take place. Drastic declines in seabird populations has slowed the rate of accumulation to a point that makes the possibility of natural guano burrows remote. Artificial nests will need to be the solution for the foreseeable future.





+ About the Nest Project

How will artificial nests help?


Artificial nests allow African penguins a safe place to incubate, hatch, and raise their chicks.




How many artificial nests are needed?


Up to 5,000 nests may be needed. The goal is to provide an artificial nest for every breeding pair that needs one. While these artificial nests are very strong and durable, they will have a 10 - 15 year life-expectancy in the harsh marine environment before needing to be replaced.




Why this nest?


Bird experts from around the world worked together to create the best possible nest design. This artificial nest very closely matches environmental conditions inside an actual guano burrow.




Are there alternatives to these artificial nests?


There have been several different artificial nests that have been tried over the last twenty years, most simply did not work and others even made environmental conditions inside the nest worse.




What are artificial nests made of?


Artificial nests are made of a special, geotextile asphalt fabric soaked in a liquid-ceramic blend. These materials allow nests to be durable enough to withstand the elements of a coastal marine environment for years to come.




Are artificial nests going to save all African penguins?


Yes, and no. Artificial nests are a crucial tool to allow African penguins to increase healthy chick rearing, however, this alone is not enough. Other environmental issues still affect African penguins like overfishing and global climate change. The good news is you can get ideas of how you can help with these other challenges as well by visiting our "Get Involved" page...




Who is running the nest project?


The African penguin nest project is a collaboration of many different organizations with a common goal of providing artificial nests to African penguins who need them. All funds raised through this site go to a special conservation account at the non-profit, Dallas Zoo. Funds are overseen and distributed accordingly by program leader and bird expert, Kevin Graham.





+ About the Fundraising Shop

In the shop, there are two different nests to sponsor, what’s the difference?


They are actually the exact same, but one is outfitted with state-of-the-art electronics that allow scientists to receive real-time data from the nests. Ideally, 10% of the total nests will have electronics on board for the long-term success of the project.




What percentage goes to the project?


If you sponsor a nest, 100% of your donation goes directly to the African penguin nest project. If you purchase a plush toy or t-shirt, 50% is donated to the project. (minus credit card processing fees)




Can I put my name on a nest if I sponsor it?


Unfortunately, no. Further customization would require more time, and cost-per-nest would go up. This is a critically endangered species that is struggling; we are short on time, and every cent matters.




Who makes the penguin plush toys and t-shirts?


Bears for Humanity creates the plush toys from G.O.T.S. certified organic cotton. G.O.T.S. stands for Global Organic Textile Standards, a rigorous certification that follows the product throughout the entire supply chain - from the farmer's field, to the factory, to the label.




I want to help. Can I start my own fundraiser for my classroom, school, or organization?


Absolutely. It’s easy to start your own fundraiser for the African penguin nest project with our friends at DonorThreeSixty. We need people like you to help us spread the word about this critically endangered species. Just click the link in the bottom right corner of the front page on savingpenguins.org to get started.




When will I get my penguin plush toy?


Due to demand, shipping for all orders will take place beginning in January, 2020.





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