Zoo backs Kickstarter campaign to save imperiled penguins

May 17, 2017 - 11:01am

First-of-its-kind 'Invest in the Nest' project will provide aid to penguins in South Africa

African penguin populations are in trouble. Over the decades, commercial interests have harvested nearly all of the guano deposits they need for nesting, and the birds are struggling to raise their young.

Now the Oregon Zoo has joined forces with other zoos and aquariums to help reverse this trend — and you can help.

Today, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums launched “Invest in the Nest,” a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter that seeks to raise $150,000 to help build and place 1,500 artificial nest boxes for African penguins in South Africa and Namibia.

The nest boxes have already been successfully tested at penguin nesting sites, and conservation biologists are now looking to deploy them widely.

“We brought together scientists and engineers to help us design the best nest for African penguins,” said AZA president and CEO Dan Ashe. “Now we need the public’s help to build and place the nests in South Africa. ‘Invest in the Nest’ is an opportunity for anyone to help save a species.”

Supporters of the campaign won’t go away empty-handed. A variety of rewards is available for backing the Kickstarter campaign, including a behind-the-scenes opportunity at the Oregon Zoo penguinarium, original artwork from the zoo’s Humboldt penguin colony, plus T-shirts, totes, posters and more.

“The Oregon Zoo has been involved in Humboldt penguin conservation for years,” said Dr. Don Moore, zoo director. “But African penguins need our help too, and this campaign is a great way for the community to join us in helping save penguins in the wild.”

The proect is part of the Saving Animals From Extinction program, which brings together the expertise and resources of AZA, its members and partners to help save species from extinction. Establishing new artificial nests is one of the eight projects identified within the SAFE African penguin conservation action plan as steps necessary to help save African penguins.