Days of action

World Penguin Day – Panorama 2019

Hannover 11. May 2019.

On April 25th I said to my colleagues, “Today is World Penguin Day.” One of my colleagues started to laugh and said, “Well, I’ll be darned!” Another colleague then said, “Then let us celebrate, as long as there still are some penguins!” That took my breath away. In order for us – and naturally also our children and grandchildren – to be able to share the planet with such cute companions, we definitely have to do something.

The fact that World Penguin Day is celebrated specifically on April 25th is no coincidence. That is the first day of winter in the southern hemisphere, on which the sun no longer shines over the horizon and the dark time of the year in the Antarctic begins. Scientists from the American McMurdo Research Station have observed that the Adélie penguins meet at exactly the same place every year on April 25th, in order to collectively swim to the north and spend the next months in the ocean. Thus was this day established and is now celebrated globally as World Penguin Day. That’s fascinating, isn’t it?

Sphenisco Flyer now in French

Landau 6. January 2019.

As of the end of last year, Sphenisco’s flyer „Humboldt Penguins Need International Help“, is also available in French: „Les manchots de Humboldt ont besoin de votre aide“. It sounds dramatic, but it truly is a work of international efforts. The flyer was translated into French by Felicitas Le Saint (France), it was proofread by Nathalie Mersch (Luxembourg), the layout done by Karliese Greiner-Laurie (New York City, USA), it was printed in Germany and delivered in December to the Parc Merveilleux, in Luxembourg. The fairy tale and amusement park in Bettembourg is the only one in the entire grand duchy of Luxembourg and is visited by approximately 260,000 people each year..


Translated by Erich Greiner

World Penguin Day at the Zoo with Sphenisco – Protection of the Humboldt Penguin e.V.

Landau, May 2, 2019
Did you know that April 25th is actually World Penguin Day? Even if it’s not generally known why this date was chosen and in what year it was first celebrated, the environmental group “Sphenisco – Schutz des Humboldt-Pinguins, e.V.” (founded in 2008 in Landau, Germany) sees this day as a very good opportunity to call people’s attention to the fact that the Humboldt Penguin’s main distribution area in Chile is doing extremely badly, and that on this day the Humboldt Penguin should be moved into the public’s focus! That was reason enough this year for the Landau Zoo and Sphenisco to use the First of May (a federal holiday) solely to send a signal out for the Penguins.
At the information and participation stand at the Landau Zoo, not just the little guests were able to learn many fascinating things about penguins. Who is who among the 18 different species of penguins that are distributed from New Zealand to Africa, and from there to South America in the southern hemisphere? Why is the Humboldt Penguin so threatened and what can each individual do in order to protect this species?

The motto of the day was “Turn the Zoo Guests into Species Protectors”. During both commented feedings, tips were given on how to buy sustainably-caught fish, how to avoid purchasing fertilizer with guano, and how to reduce plastic packaging. For overfishing, ocean pollution, the harvesting of guano on the breeding islands of the penguins and the therewith connected disturbances, as well as climate change are to blame for why the Humboldt Penguin is on the “Red List”. For many years, Sphenisco and its partners in Chile and Peru have been committed to setting up a marine protection area in the penguins’ main breeding area, located in northern Chile, in order to ensure the survival of the Humboldt Penguin.

10 Years Sphenisco e.V. – Has the Work Been Worth It?

Hannover 10. July 2018.
For quite some time, a regular part of our plan for the year has been Sphenisco’s annual assembly on the last weekend in June.
How did it come to that? After returning from a trip to Antarctica and sensitized to penguins, we discovered a flyer from Sphenisco e.V. at the Penguin Museum in Cuxhaven. After we read through Sphenisco’s website, we requested admittance to the organization. Although we didn’t see any Humboldt Penguins in Antarctica, we figured this is about the entire species, is it not?
What drives us to drive to the Pfalz once a year, during the best summer weather, to sit at the school at the Landau Zoo and hear what was can be done for the Humboldt Penguin, so that they do not lose their habitat?

World Penguin Day 2018

Landau, 5. February 2018

Sphenisco again calls for campaigns for the threatened Humboldt Penguin and its habitat, on the occasion of World Penguin Day on April 25th, as the most important breeding areas in northern Chile continue to be severely endangered.

The protests in the past years have resulted in noticeable successes. The regional government in Coquimbo and later the Bachelet government rejected the mining and port project from the company Andes Iron. The President of the Coquimbo Regional Government, Claudio Ibáñez, arranged to have the breeding islands Pajeros 1 and 2, Tilgo, Chungungo, Totoarillio declared governmental property. As a result of this, CONAF (the responsible Chilean Environmental Protection Agency) was able to apply to have this “new” property put under protection and have it integrated into the National Protection Area for the Humboldt Penguin. In January of this year, the Coquimbo Regional Government applied for the creation of a marine protection area with the Chilean Central Government. It is possible that the outgoing government of President Bachelet will still be able to pass a law creating this marine protection area.

Sphenisco’s Annual Meeting under the Motto “For Diversity, Against Monotony”

Saarbrücken, 13 July 2019.
JahrestreffenAs in the past, Sphenisco had its annual meeting on the last Saturday in June, this year on the 29th at 13:30 in the Landau Zoo School, and, as in years past, my focus was to be there as well. This time I was able to attend with my colleague Sandra Schick, from the Saarbrücken Zoological Education Department. Due to diverse construction sites and road closures, we did not get to the Landau Zoo until an hour after the meeting had already started.
Thus, we missed Nancy Duman’s Skype greetings and description of the current situation in northern Chile. Nancy is known to all the Sphenisco insiders as the highly committed on-site Sphenisco representative who, thanks to her networking, always knows the right person to contact. Unfortunately, with the new change of government, the situation with the planned large-scale projects has not changed for the better. As we arrived at around 14:30, Gabriele Knauf was just updating us on the current situation. Most interesting was that, in addition to active organizations such as Modema, the regional medical association joined the newly—established "Alianza Humboldt” (Humboldt Alliance).

Donations, Donations, Donations

Landau 1. January 2018.

At the year’s end, Sphenisco was again supported through extraordinarily from many people and institutions. The managing committee was tremendously happy.The donations were received from:

- Berufsverband der Zootierpfleger (BdZ) [Professional Association of Zookeepers]
- The Dresden Zoo,
- Christian Davril,
- Beate and Jürgen Elling,
- Meike Kagel,
- Nils Lübnitz,
- Ulrike Müller-Herancourt,
- Paultons Park, England,
- Penguin-Museum Cuxhaven
- Katrin Plendl-Jeß,
- Claudia Stehling,
- Luca Steinke,
- Munich Hellabrunn Animal Park,
- Marlow Bird Park,
- Woburn Safari Park in England,
- Berlin Zoo,
- Bremerhaven Zoo on the Sea,
- Dublin Zoo,
- Halle Zoo,
- Hoyerswerda Zoo,
- Krefeld Zoo.

The managing committee was continually astonished, they felt very much supported, and their happiness positively radiated from them! These donations provide Sphenisco the opportunity not only to continue to work to protect the Humboldt Penguin’s habitat, but to also to expand its current mission. Thank you very much!

translated by Erich Greiner

Penguin Keepers Workshop in Bernburg

Landau 4. December 2017.

BernburgThe Professional Association of Zookeepers [Berufsverband der Zootierpfleger (BdZ)] collectively organized a penguin workshop with Sphenisco between November 10th and the 13th in Bernburg. The goal of this additional training was to discuss husbandry conditions and possible improvements. The 62 participants all agreed that this workshop was long overdue. According to Jeannine Schützendübe, a 15-year-old dream was finally being realized. In these three days, topics such as breeding, medical treatment, feeding, the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), as well as incidents with bufotoxins were elaborated on and extensively discussed. On the last day the participants visited the Bernburg and Halle Zoological Gardens.


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