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African penguins feed on anchovies and sardines in the wild, and we simulate their diet at the Academy by offering sustainably caught herring and capelin, supplemented by vitamins, including B-1, E, and a multi-vitamin.At every feeding a volunteer records what each bird eats, gathering data which helps biologists monitor the well-being of each individual.The good news is that African penguins are finding a strong ally in the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences and 53 other zoos and scientific institutions in the U. Since 1983, numerous chicks hatched at the Academy have moved to other zoos and aquariums around the country in order to maximize long-term genetic diversity in the captive-bred population.That population acts as a reservoir for genetic diversity, and could eventually be used to bolster wild penguin populations.

Climate change and shifting ocean currents are also causing the penguins' preferred prey species to move, making it harder for the penguins to find them.The Academy exhibit closely mimics the penguins' natural environment through both its physical variability and changing climatic conditions.The physical features of the exhibit—water, rocky shore, cozy burrows—encourage the full range of penguin behaviors, and through sophisticated use of light and temperature controls, Academy penguins experience sunrise, sunset, and everything in between.Based on major population declines (at least 90 percent over the 20th century), African penguins were designated as an endangered species in September 2010 by the IUCN and the USFWS.In 1930, there were roughly a million of these charmers in their native West African habitat, but penguin biologists now estimate that there are only about 25,000 African penguin pairs remaining in the wild.

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