The African Penguin Conservation Program
The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as the black-footed penguin is a species of penguin, confined to southern African waters. It is also widely known as the "jackass" penguin for its donkey-like bray.
Today most penguin populations are vulnerable. Once extremely numerous, the African penguin is declining due to a combination of threats and is classified as endangered. Penguin populations are exposed to many threats such as pollution of their habitat by petrochemicals from spills, shipwrecks and cleaning of tankers while at sea, lack of food due to over-fishing, the introduction of new predators brought in by humans, egg collection (penguin eggs are considered a delicacy), and guano (penguin droppings used as a soil fertilizer) mining (eliminating the burrowing material used by penguins).
Today, zoos hold many captive breeding cores, intended to be backup groups for wild populations. Zoos are a means of helping protect the penguins in the wild, raising public awareness for conservation issues, conducting research, breeding penguins and participating in active wildlife conservation activities.
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo has contributed in the past and continues to contribute in actions to save penguins in the wild, directly and indirectly. In June 2000 the Zoo participated in an international rescue operation of over 20,000 African penguins off the shores of Cape Town, South Africa when a large oil spill was caused by the sinking of the oil tanker "Treasure". The oil spill threatened hundreds of thousands of penguins and two staff members from the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo were sent to help save the penguins that were harmed. The team sent by the Zoo directly handled close to 1000 chicks extracted in serious condition and whose parents were also injured or unable to care for them.
The Penguins at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo are all captive born and the original nucleus came from a zoo in the Netherlands. They are managed in accordance with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) international penguin breeding program which aims to preserve this species.