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Our urgent appeal has rescued and reintroduced 750 penguin chicks in South Africa.
Nearly 750 penguin chicks have been reintroduced back into the wild following a chick bolstering project funded by the Bristol Zoological Society’s urgent appeal at the end of 2014.
Every winter, hundreds of African penguin chicks who have been abandoned by their parents, are rescued by a rehabilitation centre in South Africa in a project led by the Zoo.
At the end of last year, nearly 1,000 African penguin chicks needed rescuing in comparison to just over 880 the year before. To compound this problem, the price of fish has sky-rocketed and an extra £20,000 was needed before Christmas to enable food and care to be provided for all the chicks that urgently needed help.
The Zoological charity launched a Virgin Money Giving page at the end of November, which raised over £10,000. This combined with a £12,000 donation from The Deep (Hull), a donation of £10,000 from The Oak Foundation and £15,000 raised through a Gala Dinner organised by the Society, all went towards saving the penguin chicks.
The population of African penguins has fallen a devastating 98% in the last century and fell 70% between 2001 and 2013. With less than 18,000 breeding pairs left in the wild in South Africa, African penguins are an endangered species and it remains critical to save every individual possible to increase numbers in the wild.
Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Director of Conservation at Bristol Zoological Society said: “Unless conservation charities such as us intervene, these chicks would starve to death. We wanted to help so we launched an urgent appeal. Recent research shows that penguin chicks hand-reared at the rescue centre in South Africa survive and reproduce just as well as those naturally reared, when reintroduced back into the wild. We would like to say a massive thank you to all those who supported the appeal – the money raised will literally help to save a species.”
Rehabilitation of these chicks can take anything from six weeks to three months depending on their size and condition. Once they are at fledging age, reach a healthy weight, are in good physical condition and their feathers are waterproof, they are released back into the wild.
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