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Let your pen-grin shine bright knowing that every Cocofloss 2-Piece Galapagos Penguin Ornament Set includes a $2 donation to the Global Penguin Society. Dive right into the work of this international nonprofit and the unique birds it protects below.
“When I see a penguin, I feel like they really reflect how wonderful and how fantastic this planet is … and also how fragile it is.”—Dr. Pablo (Popi) Garcia Borboroglu, founder and president of the Global Penguin Society
Alright, right now just stop, waddle, and roll this short BBC video about emperor penguin parents and their absolutely adorable chicks. If that doesn’t melt your heart just a little, it might be time to take a day off and cuddle with hot cocoa under a blanket. And stream some penguin live cams while you’re at it.
These tuxedoed, flightless birds shuffled their way onto the silver screen in the moving 2005 documentary “March of the Penguins,” followed by the mood-boosting animated flick “Happy Feet” in 2006. But since then, they’ve taken on a less cheerful claim to fame: as a poster species for global warming.
Like the polar bears of the North Pole, many penguin species that live near the South Pole depend on sea ice to survive. Emperor, adélie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins, which all call chilly Antarctica home-frozen-home, are particularly vulnerable to even small changes in temperature that can affect their health, habitat, breeding success, and food sources. That’s why the health of penguins reflects the health of our oceans — and our planet.
Plunge into the penguin facts below to learn more about these key-indicator critters and also how we can help them march on.
The Galápagos penguin prefers life in the tropics. It’s the only one of the world’s 18 penguin species to venture north of the equator. Endemic to the Galápagos islands, this bitty bird — one of the smallest penguin species — lives in caves and crevices of coastal lava.
Penguins have flippers instead of wings. So while they must clumsily hobble their way across land, they can gracefully soar through water at up to 22 miles per hour. Emperor penguins can speedily dive down 1,500 feet for a fishy treat.
Emperor penguins stay warm with an especially high density of plumeles, a special kind of downy feather that attaches directly to their skin. Some researchers are studying penguins’ fluffy insulation to help them create the ultimate waterproof suit for humans.
Many species of penguins are monogamous — most of the time. Research has found that gentoo penguins re-paired 90 percent of the time and chinstrap penguins re-paired with the same partner 82 percent of the time. But if a male doesn’t bring home the bac- … fish, or a female keeps kicking out the eggs, the “spouse” may decide to look for a better bird.
Eduardo and Rio, a same-sex couple of Magellanic penguins at the San Francisco Zoo, have helped create one the most successful penguin breeding programs in the world. According to CBS News, “Anthony Augello, the zoo’s Assistant Curator of Birds and Reptiles, says the couple has become the superstars of foster parenting. ‘Anytime we have an egg, that’s really valuable for the species survival plan, we automatically put it with our foster same-sex couple, because they’re fantastic parents,’ Augello explained.”
A penguin’s black-tie attire actually serves as camouflage. From above, their black bodies blend into the dark sea. From below, their white bellies disappear against the bright surface. Very fancy!
If penguins played basketball, emperor penguins would rule the game. Standing nearly 4 feet tall — about the size of a six-year-old human — these majestic birds are a slam dunk for the tallest penguin species.
But wait: A new discovery of an ancient penguin species that lived some 60 million years ago reveals that it reached true basketball-star height: 6 foot 5 inches from beak tip to toes.
The Global Penguin Society (GPS) is the first and only international organization dedicated solely to the conservation of the world’s 18 penguin species — more than half of which are threatened with extinction — and their habitats. Their work has already protected 32 million acres in marine and coastal areas and helped 2.4 million of our tuxedoed, flightless friends in the Southern Hemisphere.
In 2018, GPS won both a National Geographic/Buffet Award for Leadership and Conservation and a gold award from the Whitley Fund for Nature — an award so respected that it’s also known by conservationists as the “Green Oscar.” You can learn more about its mission and the people driving it in this inspiring video.
Read on to discover a few key ways they’re helping to keep penguin populations afloat:
Thanks to GPS, more than 6,500 kids have learned about penguins in their natural areas through talks, trips, and thousands of donated books about wildlife and conservation. Also, every year, before penguins arrive from their annual winter migration, GPS leads about 100 teens to collect garbage and debris from the beach and nesting areas of colonies in Patagonia, Argentina.
GPS guides conservation action by improving scientific knowledge on critical aspects of the biology and ecology of penguin species. They monitor penguin populations and track these expert avian swimmers at sea. They also work to assess large marine conservation problems such as mismanagement of fisheries, oil-drilling operations, pollution, and changing conditions in the oceans.
Working closely with government and community officials, GPS helps to create effective conservation policies that benefit not only penguins, but their entire local ecosystems as well. They focus on improving existing designated marine and terrestrial protected areas and also creating new sanctuaries for penguins, such as the newly designated Punta Tombo reserve in Argentina. This reserve protects the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world — roughly half a million black-and-white beauties.
Want to huddle much closer with a colony of penguins? Take a trip to Hotel El Pedral in Patagonia, which works closely with GPS to foster a model for ecotourism that helps both penguins and people. In September, it offers guided tours to see Magellanic penguins nesting along the scenic Patagonian coastline.
Waddle your way to a whiter smile with the Cocofloss 2-Piece Galapagos Penguin Ornament Set, which includes a $2 donation to the Global Penguin Society. To further support this award-winning organization, visit globalpenguinsociety.org or wildnet.org.