The Long Island Aquarium is implementing measures to protect our penguins from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which has been found on Long Island, in close proximity of our aquarium. HPAl is a disease carried by birds, most often migratory waterfowl, and can be fatal to some species. The virus does not spread easily from animals to humans.
Because of the close proximity of this outbreak to our location, our veterinarian has required that we keep our endangered African Penguins behind-the-scenes in our indoor holding area, until we complete some additional maintenance to their habitat which is currently under construction.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation with state and local officials closely.
Long Island Aquarium’s year-round Penguin Pavilion provides a home to our African penguins (Spheniscus demersus). The 800-square foot exhibit provides both land and water features for the birds, as well as hutches in the back wall for shelter, nesting, and breeding. Get a penguin-eyed view of the exhibit from our observation bubble!
Native to Namibia and South Africa, African penguins are adapted to live on land as well as in the sea. A streamlined body shape, dense feathers, and wings modified into flippers allow these birds to dive deep into the sea where they hunt several different types of fish and marine invertebrates. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling in the wild. In the early 1900s, the population has been estimated at 1.5 million; today, around 44,000 are thought to remain in the wild. Pollution, hunting, over-fishing and habitat loss have seriously hindered populations of this now an endangered bird.
The African penguins exhibited here were captive-bred in South Africa and imported illegally into the US. They arrived at the Long Island Aquarium in April 2004 after the US Fish and Wildlife Service reached out to the Aquarium to provide the birds with a new home.
Scientific Name: Spheniscus demersus
Weight: 5-8 pounds.
Height: about 25 inches.
Lifespan: 15-30 years.
Range: Namibia and South Africa
Habitat: rocky South African shorelines
Do you love our Penguins and would like to send them a gift? Check out their Amazon Wish List
African penguins are an endangered species and were put on the endangered species list in 2010! The population has declined significantly. In the 1800’s there was over 4 million penguins along the African coastlines. Today they estimate to only have around 25,000 birds, which means populations have declined 99%! There are numerous reasons that have caused the decline in populations from poaching of animals and eggs, harvesting their guano, pollution, oil spills, climate change, habitat destruction and overfishing of their food sources.
There are numerous efforts and organizations in place to help protect and hopefully grow their populations along with things you can do to help!
SANCCOB, a wonderful not for profit rescue and rehabilitation center based in Cape Town South Africa is dedicated to helping sick and injured seabirds, like the African penguins. They not only help get these animals back to nature but do a lot of education and research. Want to support their efforts visit SANCCOB – SANCCOB! You can even ADOPT A PENGUIN!
Saving Penguins-An African Penguin Nest project. This project is making huge efforts to place artificial nests in their colony nest sites. Due to habitat loss and destruction safe nesting locations have diminished for the African Penguin. These artificial nest have been specially designed for the African penguin and the environment and weather they face and have been proven successful! So, with the help of zoos, aquariums, sponsors, and others to help fund this project they have started installing these artificial nests within several colony nest sites. Want to help or sponsor a nest? Visit Home | Saving Penguins
Unable to donate but still want to help?
Eat sustainable seafood! By eating sustainably, you can assure that you are not part of the problem, but part of the solution! Want to know more about sustainable seafood choices? Visit Seafood Watch.
Penguin Pavilion Proudly Sponsored by:
African Penguins are comfortable in temperate regions like Long Island. They stay cool by swimming, resting in shady areas, and keeping their backs to the sun to shade their feet, flippers, and faces.
Penguins are very strong swimmers, reaching speeds of up to 15 mph in the water.
All of Long Island Aquarium’s original penguins were named after the popular television show, “Seinfeld,” after aquarists became familiar with the particular habits, characteristics, and personality traits of each bird!