Campaign against the power plants

Species Protection Euro for Humboldt Penguins

Landau 27 January 2021.

On 1 March, the Frankfurt Zoo will also introduce the Nature Conservation Euro. Like a growing number of German zoos (note 1), the Frankfurt Zoo is promoting the fact that visitors can contribute to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats with a small donation. Under the motto "Make your visit to the zoo more valuable", many small donations are to be bundled into a greater financial support for the protection of species. "You can become part of a big whole with little effort," Christof Schenck, Managing Director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (ZGF), said, praising the initiative. (see :"Behind the Zoo It Goes On" - PDF)

The Frankfurt Zoo concentrates its funding on four global and two regional projects:  regionally on "Honey Bees and Insects", of the Bee Embassy, and "Natural Forest Development in the Wispertaunus Area”, of the Zoological Society Frankfurt (ZGF); globally on the"Manu National Park in Peru", the "Protection of the Serengeti in Tanzania", and the "Bukit-Tigapuluh Protection Program on the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia", 3 other projects of the ZGF; and the fourth being SPHENISCO. SPHENISCO had to gulp at first, as the association felt the recognition of its work, and is highly honored, and remembers what a charming bird the Humboldt penguin is.

The Nature or Species Conservation Euro represents a qualitative leap in the effort to protect the Humboldt penguins and their habitat. Since the founding of SPHENISCO, many German and European zoos have supported the work of the association not only through joint actions and campaigns, but also through their membership as well as large and small donations. The Species Protection Euro makes it possible to acquire a significantly higher donation volume and to secure projects in the medium term. The Zoo Karlsruhe Zoo, the Marlow Bird Park, the Landau Zoo, the Dresden Zoo and now the Frankfurt Zoo have decided to promote the work of SPHENISCO additionally via the Species Conservation Euro (Note 2). These aids are supplemented by donations from zoo sponsors such as "The Friends of the Hagenbeck Zoo" and the "Circle of Friends, Zoo Landau".
Sphenisco’s Board therefore began discussions and negotiations last year, regarding new projects. With the researchers Alejandro Simeone, Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile; Guillermo Luna-Jorquera, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile; and Thomas Mattern, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, multi-year research can be carried out to

  1. determine the breeding population on the main breeding islands of Chile with systematic counts,
  2. determine the breeding success in 2 large breeding colonies, and                                                
  3. investigate the foraging behavior in the vicinity of the main breeding areas. It is planned to start research at the end of the year (Southern Summer).

Nancy Duman (SPHENISCO, Chile) is preparing a one-year project for environmental education with and in the schools of the coastal villages (Commune of La Higuera, near the main breeding areas). The concept was developed last year, but could not be realized due to the pandemic. Currently, the concept has been expanded to include digital media and possibilities of an IT-supported way of working in order to make the project more crisis-resistant. 

The next World Penguin Conference will take place at the end of August, 2022 (time window 22-31 August) in Viña del Mar,Chile. Dr. Alejandro Simeone (above) lives and works in the region and is significantly involved in the organization of the conference. We are in discussion with him about how SPHENISCO can participate and support the event.

All projects in Chile contribute in very different ways to the protection of the Humboldt Archipelago (main breeding areas). At the request of the association, our Peruvian partner, Acorema, is currently examining whether it is possible to effectively expand the protection efforts in Peru.  



(1) The zoos in Leipzig, Dresden, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Augsburg, Marlow, Heidelberg, Rostock and Landau have already established the species protection euro.

(2) Zoological gardens supporting the protection of the Humboldt penguin with the help of the Species Protection Euro:

- Species Conservation Foundation Zoo Karlsruhe

- Marlow Http:// Bird Park

- Dresden Zoo

- Landau Zoo

- Frankfurt Zoo


  1. K.


translated by Erich Greiner

Free Trade Fair Trade?

- EU and Chile Plan New Agreement -

Landau 2 January 2021.

At the end of last year, Deutsche Welle and Deutschlandfunk reported on the free trade agreement currently being negotiated between Chile and the EU. This article is a review of the two articles.

The new agreement aims to link the two economic zones more closely and further reduce trade barriers. The existing 17-year-old agreement has led to a doubling of trade. Chile exports almost exclusively raw materials such as copper, lithium, mining and agricultural products such as pulp, avocados, blueberries, wine, nuts and salmon. The EU, on the other hand, supplies processed products such as vehicles, aircraft, medicines and chemical products. European companies, which account for around a third of foreign direct investment, invest mainly in the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors.

The plans provoke contradictions on both sides. Critics point out that the agreement
1. further deepens the dependence of the Chilean economy on the export of raw materials and prevents Chile from developing its own industries, e.g., the production of lithium batteries.
2. one-sidedly exacerbates trade problems in Chile itself. For example, the water-intensive agriculture is creating dry periods, monocultures and the increasing use of pesticides endanger biodiversity, as does mining through toxic acidification.

In the planned agreement, the EU and Chile commit themselves to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Both parties undertake to respect the core labor standards of the International Labour Organization. This includes Convention 169 on the Protection of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. However, no sanctions are provided for in the event of breaches of the rules. Violations are either not or hardly justiciable. Victims cannot sue. The State has to bring a lawsuit and it usually does not. That is precisely why the Mercosur Agreement, which the EU intends to conclude with Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, was rejected by the European Parliament in October: toothless, non-binding commitments on sustainability, while the forests continue to burn in the Amazon.

On the other hand, corporations are to be effectively protected. They would be able to claim compensation in an investment court if profits are affected by political decisions. This would be the case, for example, if a new constitution provides better protection for workers and the environment and re-designates natural resources, such as water, as community property. Critics point to the dangerous dynamics of such a jurisdiction. Even the threat of an investor lawsuit can lead to Chile's failure to regulate workers, health and the environment. There is a risk that the state will be reshaped in favor of foreign investors. The rights of citizens whose interests differ from those of investors, would be lost.

Chile and the EU want to adopt the agreement as soon as possible in order to avoid difficulties caused by the process of the "new constitution". The 2019 protests have suggested that a majority want more social compensation and better health and environmental protection. "Entrepreneurial interests first" does not fit in with this. The European Green Deal speaks of a "sustainable economy", of "international cooperation to improve global environmental standards". These objectives do not appear to be supported by the agreement currently envisaged.


translated by Erich Greiner



Sophia Boddenberg, EU and Chile - Free trade agreement with threatening consequences, Deutschlandfunk, 25-12-20

Sophia Boddenberg, Loreto Contreras and Maria Cariola, EU-Chile Free Trade Agreement: Opportunity or Obstacle?, Deutsche Welle 02-11-20


Lockdown Lockdown

The (Spreewelten-) Penguins from Lübbenau  – Impressions of Two Members

Magdeburg 12. Oktober 2020.

The ‟Spreewald” (a section of the German state of Brandenburg) instead of Peru? A bizarre idea that in March ensured shock, unbelieving glances and tears, has turned out to be one of our most moving and beautiful trips of all.

It was the 13th of March 2020, the day on which it was clear that our dream vacation to the South American home of the Humboldt Penguin would, at least for the time being, not happen. The borders were and still are largely closed, we weren’t thinking about traveling, and health was and is the highest priority. During these weeks we heard for the first time about the water park in Lübbenau in the Spreewald, where one supposedly could swim with Humboldt Penugins: at Spreewelten Water Park.

Since our childhood days, we have been fascinated by these black and white underwater ̏fliers”. In particular, after we read the book ̏Unverfrorene Freunde” from Klemens Pütz (no English translation of the book available at this time), after many visits to the Halle Zoo (Saale), and after we repeatedly encountered Sphenisco’s involvement, we decided to join the organization at the end of 2019. It was literally a very moving decision, in every sense of the word, because we were looking for a way to come in contact with the animals themselves. We found a common ground with Sphenisco, which offered ideas, knowledge, experience and tips on how to provide a small contribution for the protection of the penguins in their homeland. Our excitement drove us on, and excitement can be contagious.

Now, since we found out that “Spreewelten” was also an organizational member of Sphenisco, we wanted to see and experience what “Swimming with Penguins” was, and whether or not it was even a good idea.

The time came in September:  we booked a room at the Spreewelten Hotel for five nights, which included entry to the Spreewelten Water Park. We observed the jolly troop of 24 Humboldt Penguins for hours and hours, talked to the loving and energetic animal keepers, and of course, swam in the comfortably-temperatured water, almost belly to belly with the penguins themselves. Here we reveal the secret:  the challenge from some of the two-legged animals to have a swimming competition was happily accepted by the penguins. The winner was always clear! No human is so fleet, agile and elegant as the underwater fliers. They have plenty of room to dive in their huge and beautiful salt water pool. Each penguin can swim at its own tempo; from relaxed, cool and disinterested, curiously watching the humans on the other side of the glass panel, to lightning fast with gallant jumps out of the water. It was simply fascinating and wonderful to be allowed to watch these clever animals go about their everyday activities.

The question here is valid, though:  who is watching whom?  Latest at 9 AM on the second morning, we were greeted at the outside enclosure with loud penguin trumpeting. Some of them provided the impression that they wanted to pose for pictures. Some of the penguins appeared to be attentive listeners, while others were interested observers of what the humans were able to do with their fingers. They followed us over land and water, based on their current whims, with curiosity and concentrating on the movements of our hands and feet, and shadow play with fingers was very popular – for both humans and penguins. Apropos fingers:  as cute as each penguin may seem, their beaks are strong and powerful. Each of the penguins has their own desire as to being caressed. We humans also don’t want to be touched by others without being asked! As such, it is logical and important for the wellbeing of the animals, that they can withdraw themselves and hide if they feel the need. The penguin area has a lot of room and plenty of hidden nooks and crannies behind stones and bushes, that are neither accessible to us guests, nor can be seen by us. It can be that almost no tuxedo wearers are visible, because perhaps most of them are either tired or simply don’t have any desire to be around each other or anyone else observing them.

At the latest however, when it comes time to eat, there’s a lot going on.  The official feeding times are twice a day, and during that time the visitors receive a lot of valuable information about the Humboldt Penguin, and see their black-and-white-feathered stars eat a diverse mix of herring, smelt and sprats. Who wouldn’t get hungry with that being offered?

The visit to Spreewelten was a magical vacation for us! The penguins are the center of attention. They are the highlight and the stars! They make it possible for all of us as visitors to be fascinated by these animals. It was easy for this happy group to put a spell on us, without having to board a plane and book an expensive trip. This is a great opportunity, as the fascination with these animals ensures interest and curiosity in their natural and beautiful habitat, and with that the threat to them. Whoever is inspired will also be sensitive to what is possible and what is needed in order to ensure their survival. Each person can do a bit to help create a world for animals and humans that’s worth living in. Initial motivation can be found for visitors on the information boards at the outside enclosure. The 24 Spreewelten penguins and in particular their animal keepers are therewith diplomats for all the penguins living in the wild! Thank you and keep it up! Viva los pinguinos!

Kathrin Ballenthin

translated by Erich Greiner

5 am Stück Guten Morgen


Save the date „save the penguin“!

NewsWorld Penguin Day 2020, the same procedure as every year! This is unfortunately necessary, considering the current developments in Chile, in a particularly way. The country is in upheaval, the people are fighting for a new constitution and for the fair distribution of materials and natural resources. At the moment, it is totally unclear whether reforms can be pushed through, and how the developments will affect natural and environmental protection.

Also in this year, the balance regarding protection of the Humboldt Penguin turns out somewhat mixed:  for over 20 years, natural and environmental activists have successfully protected the habitat of the Humboldt Penguin, lastly with a spectacular victory at the Chilean Supreme Court. Nevertheless, they were not able to get permanent and sustainable protection of this ecosystem established.

Sphenisco therefore calls for campaigns around World Penguin Day (25. April), and will make materials available for this. Please check to see if it’s possible to support with a small or large campaign on the fight for the Humboldt Penguin’s habitat at your institution, in the time period between 18. April and 03. May 2020, or even if necessary, at another time. The citizens and the local environmental movement urgently need international support.
Please inform us of your plans.
translated by Erich Greiner

“Yes to the Marine Protection Area”

Campaigns about World Penguin Day on April 25th

Proteste_ChileIn the main habitat of the threatened Humboldt Penguin in northern Chile, two industrial ports are supposed to be built. These intended projects are provoking many protests on World Penguin Day, in Chile and in many other countries as well.

Last year, already over 220,000 people from all over the globe signed the online petition from the organization “Save the Rainforest”, in order to bring attention to the threatened destruction of nature in northern Chile. In the affected area, many citizens objected to the planned building of the port projects and are fighting back in many ways (see the article about this issue on our website). For years, Sphenisco has committed itself to the creation of a marine protection area, and supports local residents with their efforts to preserve the marine area and to use it exclusively in a sustainable fashion.

For this year’s World Penguin Day on April 25th, Sphenisco is calling for its members and zoos in Europe and the Americas to call attention to this dramatic situation in the Humboldt Penguin’s habitat through diverse campaigns on April 25th. Among the planned actions are a worldwide photo campaign under the motto “Yes to the Marine Protection Area!” and the new online petition “A Home for Penguin & Co.”, that we are organizing with the environmental group, Save the Rainforest. Together with our partner organizations in Chile and natural protectionists around the globe, Sphenisco is appealing to Chilean President Bachelet to lastingly protect the survival of the population of wild Humboldt Penguins, and not to endanger them through the building of these port projects. The PDF file “World Penguin Day 2017” can provide more details about the campaigns.


translated by Erich Greiner

Penguin Power in Berlin

Landau, 28. April, 2016

World Penguin Day in Berlin. It is 9:30 AM. Three species of penguins waddle to the entrance of the Chilean Embassy in Mohrenstrasse. They unroll a banner and hold signs with “Salven los pingüinos – 210,000 firmas”, or, “Save the Penguins”. Penguins are comical, and especially penguins that demonstrate. The police on standby in the nearby van are amused. Lea Horak from the organisation “Rainforest Rescue” is given permission to enter the embassy, and is received by the Minister of the Embassy, Manuel Galdames. Ms. Horak tells him of the conflict in the Coquimbo Region in Chile, and presents him with the 210,000 signatures that were collected. That is how many people all over the world have so far signed the petition sent to President Bachelet. The Minister of the Embassy is also given the “La Higuera-Isla Chañaral Declaration”, that is supported by about 550 institutions and organisations – very small ones and very large ones. The Minister received the declaration and the petition signatures, and promised to pass them on.

On May 9th, Sphenisco, accompanied by the artists' cooperative “Chao Pescao”, the citizens' movement “Movimento en Defensa del Medio Ambienta (MODEMA)”, the non-governmental organisation “Oceana”, members of the Chilean Parliament, as well as citizens of the Coquimbo Region, will directly present the hertofore-collected total of 215,000 signatures for the campaign “Save 26,000 Humbodt Penguins” either to President Bachelet herself, or to her government.

The fact that so many people and institutions are against the port projects, and that these people and institutions are observing the developments in Chile, provides more emphasis on the demand for an appropriate, factual review.


translated by Erich Greiner


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