A Little Piece Of South Africa... In Vancouver
The new home of these African penguins – Penguin Point – is inspired by Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, their natural environment. A 180 degree view will allow you to see these penguins in action as they waddle on the rockwork and swim in the surrounding water.
Get up close to the penguins or hang back and get a bird’s eye view from the upper viewing level. Explore this new exhibit to learn more about African penguins and how they measure up to the 17 other species of penguins. Find out where in the world penguins live and what makes a penguin an unlikely bird.
Contrary to popular belief, not all penguins live in a world of snow and ice. They don’t all live in the Antarctic (only four of the 18 species live there), and you definitely won’t find any penguins cavorting with polar bears in the Arctic – all of them except one live in the Southern Hemisphere. Only the Galapagos penguin lives at the equator.
The African penguins on display here live on the rocky islets and coastal beaches of South Africa and Namibia. Because they live in sub-tropical climates, African penguins have to cope with both cooling down on land and keeping warm in the water. They lift up their feathers and catch a breeze to cool down on land, or trap an insulating layer of air with their feathers to keep warm in water. Watch them long enough and you’ll catch them doing these and many other behaviours.
Adapted To Life At Sea
Even though a penguin is a bird – it makes for an unlikely one. It has wings but it can’t fly, and it’s more adapted to living in the water than in the air.
Penguins have wings that are shaped like flippers, making them great swimmers. Other adaptations include: bodies shaped like torpedoes, feathers that are short and closely-packed to keep water way from the skin and heavier bones that make penguins less buoyant, allowing them to dive deeply. Come see them as they effortlessly whiz through the water.
An Uncertain Future
The animals at the Aquarium are important ambassadors for their species because African penguins are now listed as endangered in the wild. This is because the number of penguins in southern Africa has dropped 90% since the early 1900s.
Researchers think that these penguins’ ability to hunt for anchovies and sardines is affected by commercial fishing and the slight increase in ocean temperatures off the southern coast of Africa. This in turn, is affecting the health of the next generation of African penguins.
We’re sharing their story and putting our support behind other organizations who are actively working to save them. It’s through this partnership that we have acquired these penguins on exhibit at the Aquarium; they were bred as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan.