Penguins International is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and protecting penguins throughout the world.
To accomplish our mission, we actively engage in penguin conservation, educate the public on threats to penguins, and conduct scientific research investigations; three activities that go hand-in-hand to fully understand these amazing species of birds and protect them for all to cherish.
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Penguin conservation is a challenging task that involves not only traveling to far-off remote parts of the earth to reach many of these penguin species, but also involves hard work promoting governmental policy changes and educating the general public that can help protect these penguins. Our current and proposed projects below are just the beginning on what we have planned for the future, with many more to come based on funding and political climate.
• Emergency oiled penguin response
Synopsis: Prepare caches and have trained personnel on staff for response to both small and large scale clean-ups in populated areas as well as remote Southern Ocean regions
The Story: Did you know that even tiny oil slicks on the water (from a leaking engine, or discharged from bilge, for instance) can be extremely harmful and even potentially lethal to penguins? The oil prevents their feathers from being waterproof and the penguins can become hypothermic in the cold ocean water. They can also become sick from ingesting the oil while trying to preen the oil off of their feathers. Our goal is establish an emergency response team and have caches in various countries ready to deploy to clean and rehabilitate penguins that have encountered oil spills of any size.
• Emperor Penguin real-time population monitoring
Synopsis: Population trends of Emperor Penguins are currently unknown due to difficult-to-assess colonies in the Antarctic. Current monitoring is based off of research from outdated satellite imagery that is up to 8 years old
The Story: In 2017, the second-largest Emperor Penguin colony collapsed when extremely unusual weather events caused the sea ice they were breeding on to break apart very early. Horribly, this caused the death of 10,000 – 20,000 Emperor Penguin chicks and the colony has not recovered since. This weather-related catastrophe is attributed to climate change. We aim to establish real-time population monitoring of every Emperor Penguin colony in Antarctica to analyze the impacts of such events and to use this information to steer policy changes and decrease fossil fuel emissions that cause climate change.
• Fiordland Penguin/Tawaki conservation project
Synopsis: Fiordland Penguin conservation work in partnership with Tawaki Project
The Story: Fiordland Penguins (also called Tawaki in New Zealand) are classified as Vulnerable by IUCN Redlist and are only found on the west coast of New Zealand. Their population numbers are currently decreasing and we’ve partnered with Tawaki Project (http://www.tawaki-project.org) in New Zealand to find out why they are decreasing and what we can do about it. Our conservation and research projects will look at where the penguins are foraging, if they are competing with fisheries for food, where they go in the non-breeding season, and understanding their breeding behaviors.
• Penguin Educator Program
Synopsis: Provide penguin conservation education at local schools in support of statewide science curricula
The Story: This project fits right in line with our mission to provide awareness to the public of threats to penguins. We aim to educate the general public and — more specifically — the younger generations about threats penguins face in today’s world and what we can all do to help save them. By planting the seeds of conservation in the future change-makers of our world, we hope to encourage protection of all species for generations to come.
• Nest box/colony rehabilitation program
Synopsis: Provide nest boxes for threatened penguins whose habitats have been destroyed by guano harvesting in South America, in partnership with local penguin conservation organizations
The Story: This project is still in its infancy, but we are currently exploring partnerships in South America to help restore and rehabilitate Humboldt Penguin colonies that have been destroyed by past guano harvesting. Humboldt Penguins are classified as Vulnerable with decreasing populations. They rely on burrows they dig in the soft substrate of centuries-old breeding sites that have been built up over time from penguin guano. The guano was, and in some instances still is, harvested as a nutrient-rich fertilizer. But this has destroyed the breeding sites of many Humboldt Penguins and the underlying ground is too hard for these penguins to excavate new burrows. By installing nest boxes at these sites, the Humboldt Penguins can have burrows once again to protect their offspring from the weather and from predators.
• Produce a penguin conservation-themed television series for PBS
Synopsis: Commitment from CPT 12 (PBS) to air an entire season of episodes
The Story: Also very inline with our public education mission, we have a television series in production to air on local and national PBS television channels that will highlight penguin conservation challenges and goals, while at the same time providing an entertaining presentation of penguin biology and facts to a wide audience. Each week, the show will feature a different zoo or aquarium.
These projects all fill gaps in penguin conservation that desperately need to be addressed in order to help conserve and protect penguins throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Our staff and Board of Directors have carefully evaluated these projects and are working hard to use these methods to fulfill our mission — to protect and conserve penguins of all species. But we need financial support from generous donors like you to make these efforts work. Please consider donating today!
Other continuing and past conservation work includes the following:
- Conservation of the vulnerable Fiordland Penguin in New Zealand, in collaboration with the Tawaki Project
- Breeding colony rehabilitation and marine debris cleanup at various sites in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island
- Monitoring of breeding colony physical size and geographical movement as well as Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of colony boundaries and access
- Analysis of detailed population data to help understand the current state of penguin health
Penguin Education and Public Awareness
At Penguins International, we strongly believe that one of the best ways to help conserve all species of penguins is through education and awareness in every aspect of penguin biology. To accomplish these goals, we actively engage in the following activities:
- Create educational materials
- Give presentations
- Create stimulating visual media to enhance general understanding and love of penguins
- Teach penguin biology and ecology to students of all ages including adult learners
Penguin conservation is important not only for the sake of the animals, but also for the outlook of our planet. We all love the cute, charismatic nature of penguins, their human-like qualities, and their stunning underwater acrobatics.
We also want penguins to be around for millennia to come, so they can be enjoyed by many future generations. And we certainly don’t want human activities to be the cause of their demise. But penguins are far more than the beautiful, amazing creatures they appear.
They are sentinels of the health of our oceans and our planet as a whole. Like their relatives, the proverbial canary in a coal mine, that was the first to succumb to a toxic environment and serve as a warning to the working miners, penguins serve as a similar type of sentinel. Because penguins feed high on the food chain and accumulate toxins that build up in the ocean, if penguins start dying off, the health of humans is also in grave danger.
Most penguins live in regions of the planet that are far from any industrialization, and if these penguins become affected by such dangers as warming of the planet, contaminant accumulation, or over-population, humans are also in imminent danger. But we can make a difference before it’s too late. If we can protect the penguins, we can protect the planet.
Please help us in spreading the word about the importance of penguins to our planet. They need your help!
These pollutants are stored in fat cells therefore have bioaccumulating properties which are readily quantified in high-trophic predators, such as penguins. Additionally, penguins serve as unique biomonitors for this contaminant exposure because they are relatively sedentary compared to flying birds. They also have a very limited migratory range during the non-breeding season. These characteristics make penguins excellent biomonitors for environmental contaminants throughout the region.
Our current study is comparing contaminant loads in Gentoo Penguins from the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula to analyze the spread of these contaminants in these remote regions.
Determination of antibiotic exposure in penguins and quantification of antibiotic resistance from pharmaceutical exposure
This study focuses on colonization of penguins by antibiotic-resistant bacteria to determine if antibiotics are reaching these isolated regions of the planet and stimulating mutations of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Pharmaceutical antibiotics aggregate in wastewater systems throughout the world following elimination in urine and these antibiotics eventually discharge into oceans.
Antibiotic-resistant strains of colonizing bacteria have been found on various marine fauna close to populated areas. We are investigating whether antibiotic levels in penguins are reaching high enough levels in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions to initiate resistance in these isolated areas.
Best practices for penguin conservation
We’re always working on new techniques to increase conservation of penguins. Our most recent work has demonstrated new less-invasive and non-invasive research techniques that allow for studying pollution exposure with minimal disruption to the penguins within the colony. This research is a win-win for both researchers and penguins alike!
Our Board of Directors
After moving back to Denver and working in conservation and animal rescue (another true passion) she found that philanthropic work was where she belonged. Aside from her full time job at PBS12 Public Television, Paula also volunteers for Freedom Service Dogs, Colorado Beagle Rescue, the ASPCA and works as a Keeper Assistant at the Denver Zoo.
Paula is responsible for strategizing with businesses and organizations to support PBS12-Colorado Public Television through corporate sponsorships of programming and special events. She also plans, promotes and executes the station’s fundraising concert events held at such venues as The Paramount Theater, Red Rocks, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Paula also serves on the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.
Julie is a Denver native and has lived in all of the ‘C’ states: CO, CA, NC and CT (where she got her BA and MA from Wesleyan University). She loves spending time outdoors in the Colorado sunshine with her husband, daughter and dog.
David’s passion for conserving and protecting penguins stems from his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Environmental Biology. It was from a second bachelor’s degree in Marketing, however, where he developed an enthusiasm for connecting with the public and driving an emotional response to conservation needs. The combination of these interests led him to found Penguins International and dedicate himself to protecting endangered species. Besides traveling around the world to study penguins, David’s adventurous side leads him on trips to explore new countries with his family, and in his free time he enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, racquetball, hockey, and spending as much time as possible with his wife and son.
Cory’s spent much of her youth actively engaged in nature conservation. She continues to provide volunteer support for many local and global initiatives. Through this time, she has always had a special place in her heart for penguins and the vital role they play in maintaining a healthy eco-system.
Her professional interests include social entrepreneurship, hybrid business models and exploring how organizations and businesses can scale impact, access capital and generate sustainable and inclusive success models. Her passion for empowering change lead her to study communication theory, psychology, and racial and gender justice at Weber State University and Penn State University. After earning both a BS and MA, she continues to seek education enrichment, which has led her to complete certification programs on cultural strategies and effective team building, project management and business development from Yale University, University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University.
She serves on a variety of Boards addressing the intersection of race, gender, environmental justice and class. Cory is a subject matter expert and has presented and lead panel discussions for the United State of Women, Tech2 Empower, Nature United, and the International Association of Women to name a few.
She is motivated to drive positive culture change and inclusive environments that lead to a more just world for all!
Katie has been a core collaborator with zoos, aquariums, museums, non-profits and scientific communities to execute education and action-based projects. She is also a certified Animal Trainer through Behaviorworks and an Arctic Ambassador representative for Polar Bears International. Katie has worked with the Denver Zoo, The Center of Science and Industry (COSI in Columbus), Purposeful Networks, SeaWorld/ Busch Gardens, The Cincinnati Zoo, The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and The Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo.