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|Mystic Aquarium Assists in Hand-Rearing over 400 Rescued African Penguins|
Mystic Aquarium focuses national attention on the plight of African penguin chicks on FOX & Friends.
South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) requested the help of Mystic Aquarium staff after 415 abandoned African penguin chicks were rescued. Abandoned at the Stony Point land-based breeding colony located at Betty’s Bay and Dyer Island in South Africa, the chicks have been brought in from the wild to be hand-reared at the SANCCOB facility.
Supervisor of Penguins and Pinnipeds Laurie Macha has traveled to South Africa to assist with the labor intensive hand-rearing for two weeks. Upon Laurie’s return, Senior Trainer of Penguins and Pinnipeds Sarah Dunn will travel to South Africa for two weeks. Travel expenses for both Laurie and Sarah are made possible through funds raised by Sea Research Foundation’s annual “Run or Walk for the Penguins” held each October. Laurie and Sarah will provide regular updates that can be found on our South African Penguin Blog.
The chicks will be hand-reared for six weeks before being returned to their colony – fat, healthy and ready to take on the challenges of being a wild penguin. The Stony Point penguin colony is managed by Overstrand Municipality and supported by CapeNature to assist with ecological monitoring and conservation decisions. The decision to remove the birds was based on sound research principles and the experience of all partners involved. The parents abandoned their chicks to prepare for their annual molt, which includes the natural cycle of fattening up for three weeks prior to onset.
The African penguin was recently reclassified as endangered and the hand-rearing of orphaned chicks is seen as an essential and successful component of bolstering the wild population. Since 2001, 1,866 chicks have been admitted to SANCCOB from molting parents and 80% have been successfully released back into the wild. It costs approximately $200 to hand-rear each chick, making the cost of this rescue effort over $83,000. Mystic Aquarium's Animal Parent program and SANCCOB's Christmas Chicks program allows for the adoption of African penguins and funds raised help support this crucial effort.
Pictured: Laurie Macha hand-rearing African penguin chicks at the SANCCOB facility.
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