Southern Rockhopper Penguin
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.
The International Penguin Congress is a collective of penguin scientists from around the world that meet every three years to discuss penguin research and conservation. The congress began in 1988 in New Zealand. This was the first conference ever to be fully devoted to penguin science! This year is the first time penguin researchers will meet after the global pandemic kept the world confined. September will mark the 11th International Penguin Congress which is taking place in Viña del Mar, Chile. Read more about past conferences
Penguin Pedal Update

The Penguin Pedal- Ends Soon! 

Our annual race against penguin extinction, The Penguin Pedal ends on August 30th! If you enjoy running, waddling, or cycling don’t miss out on the opportunity to support penguin conservation whilst you exercise. This year we’re supporting Dr. Katta’s penguin research with this virtual race and we hope you’ll consider joining us.

Want to support us another way? Consider purchasing a Penguin Pedal shirt, tank top, or hoodie! Proceeds also benefit Dr. Katta’s penguin research so you can take comfort in knowing you’re helping penguins by looking awesome.

Conservation Partner: American Association of Zoo Keepers

Penguins International is thrilled to announce that we are conservation partners for the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK)! The mission of The AAZK is to advance excellence in the animal keeping profession, foster effective communication beneficial to animal care, support deserving conservation projects, and promote the preservation of our natural resources and animal life. We can’t wait to continue working with penguin keepers and aquarists to promote penguin conservation. If you’re a keeper or aquarist, we hope to see you at the AAZK Annual Conference in Akron, Ohio this year! 

Join us TONIGHT, July 11th at 7pm Central Time for AAZK's Conservation Conversation.

Zoo News
Behavioural Diversity as an Indicator of Animal Welfare
By Sherona Dhunraj, Sarah Pillay - Ski Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Gabrielle Ann Harris – South African Association for Marine Biological Research – South Africa

The United Arab Emirates is a country in Western Asia and consists of seven Emirates with Dubai being the most populated and a buzzing international hub. This is where Ski Dubai is located and is around 300,000 square meters in size. Besides the fact that many know Ski Dubai as being voted the World’s Best Indoor Ski Resort for 7 years in a row now, we also offer guest experiences with a breeding colony of 27 Gentoo and 23 King Penguins. The penguins are housed in their very own VIP (Very Important Penguin) area that is separate from the ski slopes and theme park where they thrive and are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild. The 16 Animal Care Specialists who make up the Snow Penguins team in Dubai, work to ensure good animal welfare by providing appropriate environmental enrichment, health care, training, nutrition, and habitats. Our research study investigated how environmental enrichment affects behavioural diversity within the penguin population.
Behavioural diversity can be defined as the frequency and richness of species-typical behaviour exhibited by an individual animal.  The underlying theory is that if an animal has high behavioural diversity (i.e., frequently exhibits a variety of species-appropriate behaviours), there is an increased likelihood that the animal is experiencing positive welfare (Miller LJ, Pisacane CB, Vicino GA. Relationship between behavioural diversity and faecal glucocorticoid metabolites: a case study with cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Anim Welf. 2016;25: 325–329.
For the purposes of our study, enrichment was based on the penguins’ natural history requirements and personal preferences. Our deduction was attained by using an ethogram and comparing scenarios with and without enrichment. Observations were conducted before and after enrichment opportunities were provided. Enrichment included walks on our Ski Dubai Ski Slope twice a week. Other enrichment was provided in their living space where there is a pool through which the public can view. When providing enrichment in this space, we recorded whether guests were present at the pool window or not. The pool window faces the encounter area, and this is the second stop before the guests begin their encounter. It is where they have the privilege of watching the penguins swim and relate to each other whilst learning a little more about them from our knowledgeable staff. The first stop is our briefing room, where guests get an in-depth account of what to expect during their encounter, the dos and don’ts of interacting with a penguin, and a sneak peek into the penguin’s world which is done using multimedia. They are then transported to the magical world of our fabulous, flightless, feathered friends.
A total of fifteen observations were conducted over a four-week period in August and September 2022. These are the months when there is no molting or breeding for either species. We used a pre-determined ethogram to measure the behaviors of the group of birds present to get an overall view of the entire colony. Penguins were observed over five-minute intervals every second day over this period and behaviors were recorded, collated, and evaluated over a five minute interval. Data collected included before, during and after the enrichment opportunities were offered at different times of the day.
Our preliminary results suggest that environmental enrichment did indeed increase behavioural diversity as well as species-specific behaviour and hence may be a positive indicator of animal welfare. It was interesting to see that both sedentary and social behaviours had increased albeit at a marginal level but an increase, nonetheless. If we can improve their natural expression and ensure they remain interested and engaged in their environment, we are progressing with our goal of ensuring their holistic health.  Furthermore, the time we spend focusing on their behaviour will ensure we continue to learn more about them. Information gleaned about the group and individuals is essential to tailor their care programs. Used pragmatically, a strong enrichment program supports good animal wellbeing and is intended as it assists to maintain an animal’s psychological wellbeing.  
Lessons learned with this task are going to assist us as we intend broadening our study. We aim to deduce factors such as land versus water behaviour, social interaction levels and a variety of other behavioural factors in order to verify this. We shall continue to take note of how this enhances the penguins’ well-being and thus welfare with the possibility to track this behavioural insight against physiological indicators. 

*This was previously presented at the joint ABMA and IMATA conference in Atlanta, Georgia in March 2023 and sent for publishing on request in the ABMA’s ENGAGE magazine in May.
The Category is: Enrichment
By Kelsey Carter – Lead Aquarist/Secondment Sea Life Aquarium

Being a penguin keeper, we all want the best for our colony. Scrolling through social media, there are so many penguin posts that are celebrating animal welfare, enrichment or
training goals. However, nothing is more rewarding than seeing the changes of an animal’s behavior in person. I’ve recently had an opportunity to see just that when I took on a secondment position working at one of our sister sites in Thailand.

At this site, we have two species of penguins, Gentoo and South African which are known to be inquisitive and social species; however, these particular colonies could not be
more different from each other. Our Gentoo colony is packed with personality due to their curious nature. Our South African birds have been a bit more challenging and the relationship between the birds and their keepers needed some development. Every bird has their own uniqueness to them that needs to be celebrated. One of the best ways to discover and learn about the birds is through enrichment. The goal of enrichment is to introduce something to the animals that encourages natural behaviors. With penguins, enrichment is critical to building stronger, positive relationships between the birds and their keepers.
Enrichment can be broken into different categories including habitat alterations, sensory items, food based, cognitive and the most common being toys. My focus has been exploring
these categories recently, and together with the penguin team, we have really challenged the enrichment program and refocused our efforts to build stronger relationships.
With our colony of Gentoo penguins, we were using mostly toy based enrichment and it was time for us to explore other varieties. We started to introduce new forms of
enrichment including puzzle feeders, daily music sessions, and one of my personal favorites;penguin parties featuring bubbles, fish cakes, a fun playlist and LED disco lights. These birds were already very enriched, but changing these routines and challenging the team’s understanding of positive keeper-animal relationships produced some amazing changes.

Throughout our enrichment journey, we have seen our goofy Gentoos, become eager for us to step into the display, clumsily running and sometimes topple over each other with
excitement to us to see what interaction is about to happen. When we sit down to clean the pool, birds will happily jump into our laps are start preening or even attempt to mate with the keepers. One of the biggest changes we have seen is the birds happy for us to touch them, which has allowed us to start training behaviors to assist with veterinarian care.

Another massive change has occurred during this nesting season, where the birds have built a stronger connection with keepers to the point where we can easily approach a nesting couple to clean, examine or feed them while trusting us with their space to feel safe. The Gentoo enrichment program has grown drastically and has shown such positive outcomes, that we wanted to expand and explore changes to the South African colony.

The South African colony has always been a bit more timid than our Gentoo colony. Despite being in the same aquarium, these colonies have very different histories, rooted in what historically were different approaches to husbandry. This meant that we had different enrichment goals for them than our Gentoos which included encouraging more natural behaviors and improving the keeper-animal bonds. We started out small by introducing music into our cleaning routines that included a softer style playlist with some classical music and soft pop including Taylor Swift’s Folklore album. When we saw positive changes and behaviors occurring during some of the songs, we started to create a ‘Penguin Playlist’ for the birds. After developing sensory enrichment, we moved to the next category of cognitive. Some of the birds’ favorite cognitive items has been fish ice cubes, nesting sticks
stuck inside of “ice castles” and creating a “bobbing for toys” area. This is where we will have a large bowl and fill it with water and random toys or nesting sticks. The birds will
eagerly come over and attempt to grab the items they desire inside of the bowl while the
items tend to float away. Since beginning this enrichment focus, we can see some great steps in strengthening the bonds between the birds and their keepers. Our journey has only just begun, and it has been amazing to see the impact on the animal’s welfare as well as the enjoyment from the keepers learning and creating new items.

Today, we are celebrating our enrichment wins for a process that has developed over the past several months. With any animal husbandry routine, the work is never finished,
and we are constantly developing and building on the success we have seen. We are excited to continue our enrichment and training journeys for our animals and continue monitoring behavior trends. Our site has been amazed with the progress and the behavior changes from the birds and cannot wait to see how the colony reacts with a consistent program.

Sending Love and Support to Metro Richmond Zoo

On June 6, 2023, our friends at Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia experienced a devastating fire, destroying several buildings with loss of animal's lives. Rising from the ashes was Phoenix, one of nine animals that were able to be saved from the fire and was also the 300th African Penguin hatched at the zoo. 

Another loss the zoo recently experienced was that of our former March of the Penguin Madness contender, ET, who died of natural causes at the age of 43, as the world's oldest African Penguin.  ET grabbed the hearts of hundreds of fans during the contest and we were truly honored to have her participate. Thanks for sharing a small part of your epic life with us, ET. You will be greatly missed.

If you would like to show your love and support during this difficult time, please use the Amazon wish list and/or donate links below:

Metro Richmond's Amazon Wish List                  Metro Richmond's Online Store to Donate

Phoenix (left) and ET (right). Photos were shared with us by Metro Richmond Zoo.
Volunteer Opportunity

Make an Impact: Become a Penguin’s Voice

Calling all wordsmiths and penguin enthusiasts! Exciting opportunity alert! Join our team as a volunteer blog writer, dedicated to sharing fascinating tales about our adorable, waddling friends- the penguins. Dive into the world of these incredible creatures and help spread awareness. Let’s give penguins the voice they deserve! Apply today:

Waddle You Do For Penguins?
Click the images above and/or button below to learn more!
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Deadlines: March 31, June 30, September 31, December 31
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