Douglas Tompkins has died

Landau, December 10, 2015

We are mourning the passing of Douglas Tompkins.

The death of Douglas Tompkins is a great loss for natural and species protection in Chile, and internationally as well. In the last 26 years, the one-time entrepeneur and millionare used all his energy, wealth, and spirit for the protection of ecosystems. For their commitment, he and his wife Kristine were awarded the Bruno H. Schubert Prize in 2008, and just in July of this year, the Kieler Global Economic Prize. During the award ceremony in Frankfurt in 2008, we personally requested him to support the campaign against the building of coal-fired power plants in the Coquimbo Region (northern Chile). Despite resistance from his employees, he spontaneously and unbureaucratically agreed to support the battle against those power plants.

We are sad, but hope that the national parks that were created by him and his wife in Chile and Argentina continue to exist, and remain a sustaining protection area for flora and fauna.


Übersetzer - Erich Greiner

It´s Christmas Again!

Landau, 22. December, 2015

Naturally, it's also Christmas time in Chile and Peru, with the penguins. There however, el Niño and not the Christ Child, brings destruction and often famine because the fish are absent. Hopefully, the prophets are wrong and el Niño won't be as strong and violent as expected.

That presents the question:  do penguins know that it's Christmas? Do they know the Christ Child, or just el Niño?  The answer is clear. Of course they don't know about Christmas! However, Sphenisco  got a lot of gifts this Christmas time, and just in time for the Christmas holiday, a lot of donations came in. Sphenisco was quite surprised by the many exceptional and generous donations.

Donations were received from:

-                   Berufsverband deutscher Zootierpfleger  – (Professional Association of German Zoo Animal Keepers)

-                   Bergzoo in Halle – (Mountain Zoo in Halle, Germany)

-                   Dresdner Zoo (Dresden Zoo)

-                   Paulton's Park in England

-                   Penguin Museum in Cuxhaven, Germany

We were delighted. The donations enormously help us to continue the support for the projects in Chile and Peru. Sphenisco's Board feels itself well-supported through these donations and all of the efforts that went into them. Thank you!

And the penguins? They thank you as well and hope for a friendly year in 2016.


Übersetzung - Erich Greiner

Film Premiere of “My Favorite Little Spot” - A Benefit Event for Sphenisco

Landau, 7. December, 2014

The only Humboldt Penguins of the southern Palatinate have their favorite little spot in the Landau Zoo but were, as an exception, not the focus of the current film project of Gabriele and Werner Knauf. Instead, four Palatinate residents, as well as one person who feels like he's from there, revealed their favorite places in the southern and anterior Palatinate to the two filmmakers, as well as sharing their memories, thoughts and feelings about these places. In the five short movies, the nature, culture, and lifestyle of the Palatinate were illustrated and described in very different ways. Viniculturist Evi Ulrich-Friedrich from Pleisweiler-Oberhofen, Ben Hergl from the “Chawwersuch Theatre” in Herxheim, Fritz Pechovsky from the senior citizens' cabaret group “Gray Matter” in Ettlingen, and Anja Kleinhans from the Theater Freinsheim were naturally also present at the film premiere on November 30th at the “Kino Digital in Hohenstaufensaal” Movietheater in Annweiler, and presented themselves excited and pleased during their interviews with moderator Klaus Wirbitzky about this fantastic and very personal film project. The fact that the Humboldt Penguin was not present did not prevent the 80 guests that were present from generously donating money. Heartfelt thanks from Sphenisco for the 350 Euro in donations!

The short films can be seen on the internet at "Sphenisco e.V. on vimeo" or at . Enjoy!

Dr. Christina Schubert

The following series of photos by Anne Blumer presents a brief insight into the evening.

























Breeding Situation Improved at the Island of Choros

La Serena, 1 February 2014.

At our last meeting with him in La Serena, Guillermo Luna (Professor at the Institute for Marine Biology at the University of Coquimbo) was very relieved. Finally, he was able to report that not only was he able to ascertain base data, but that the plan to combat invasive alien species (initially intended to start in 2010) was finally able to be put into action. The beginning of the main phase of the “Conservation Measures Program” (see reports on this website from Jan. 14, 2010 and Jan. 12, 2012) had to be postponed many times. In September 2013, the previously-imported European rabbits were successfully eradicated from the Island of Choros (part of the National Protection Area of the Humboldt Penguin). This action was funded and partially executed by the Chilean government agency, CONAF (Corporación Nacional Forestal). The effectiveness of this action will be inspected in five years, and, if necessary, the eradication effort will be repeated. The first inspection will happen in March 2014. There is already evidence that the vegetation is recovering.

Professor Luna excitedly reported that he found a small plant that he had never before seen on the island. We are relieved that the rabbits are no longer damaging the vegetation and that the soil erosion has stopped.

Thus are the nesting holes of the penguins, as well as those of the Peruvian diving petrel, able to be preserved under protective vegetation.


No English translation available

No English translation available.

Opening of the new “Penguin Pool” in the Krefeld Zoo

Landau 25. April 2014.


On April 17, the new 800 square-meter enclosure for the Humboldt Penguin was opened at the Krefeld Zoo. The design of the enclosure followed the desert-like natural environment the animals have in Chile and Peru. Visitors have the opportunity to observe the penguins through large glass panes and see them “fly through the water”; it is also possible to cross through the enclosure on a path and watch the penguins directly in their habitat. Additionally, there is a huge net spanned over the entire compound that allows room for the nimbly-flying and also threatened Inca Tern.

In a message of greeting, Dr. Christina Schubert, Vice Chairwoman of Sphenisco, Krefeldconveyed the best wishes for the new enclosure and had the chance to present Sphenisco’s protection efforts to over 90 invited guests and employees of the zoo. The Krefeld Zoo has been an organizational member of Sphenisco since 2012, and presents species protection work that occurs both on this side and the other side of the Atlantic to zoo visitors via a very appealing informational sign located inside the enclosure. Zoo Director Dr. Wolfgang Dreßen (see photo to the right) and Mr. Friedrich R. Berlemann, Chairman of the “Zoofreunde Krefeld” (see photo to the left), in celebration of the opening of the enclosure, presented Frau Schubert a check for 5,000 Euro, to support Sphenisco’s current projects: a heartfelt “Thank You” for the generous donation!

Dr. Christina Schubert

no English translation available