African penguins are in serious trouble. Their numbers have plummeted over the past century due to the destruction of nesting sites, egg poaching, oil spills, global climate change, and competition for food resources with commercial fishing. There is hope to save this iconic species, through the African Penguin Nest Project.
The Creative Animal team documented the effort to develop and deploy a state-of-the-art artificial nest for the African penguin.
A Short Film About a Long-Term Problem
The Creative Animal Team joined Dallas Zoo’s Kevin Graham on the latest trip to South Africa to deploy these state-of-the-art artificial nests. The resulting short film documents the struggle of these seabirds, explains the history behind their story, and follows the people who are in a race against time to give them adequate shelter from the sweltering heat and hungry predators.
This project is an international campaign to literally invest money into the production of artificial nests to help save the African Penguin. These uniquely awesome birds use a layer of guano to line their nests, however, in recent years people have harvested this guano for use as a fertilizer. No guano = no penguin chicks. With threats from predation, overfishing, and oil spills, these penguins are in need of some serious help.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is stepping up to the plate and spearheading a plan to save these birds from extinction. In addition to breeding penguins in captivity under their Species Survival Plan, they have also been working diligently in wild to save this species. Over 44 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, along with numerous other governments, agencies, non-profit and for-profit businesses, supported or took part in penguin conservation projects in the field. This multi-organizational, and multi-faceted plan not only included the artificial nest program, but also included the disaster response, tagging and tracking, individual identification, marine contaminant monitoring, and health monitoring
However, the Invest In The Nest campaign targeted only the artificial nest development program, and, it was highly successful. In total, it raised over $193,000 to help out this one of a kind mission to help save this species from extinction.
A Painting to Help Penguins
The Creative Animal team wanted to do their little part to help in this amazing cause. Using their unique talents, tour hosts Tim and Stephanie hatched a plan and made day trip to visit the Maryland Zoo and it’s world class African Penguin exhibit, Penguin Coast. Cameras in tow, they toured this newly redesigned exhibit. It’s not only conducive for their breeding program (which is known world-wide as one of the best and most prolific), but it’s also much more sustainable than their old exhibit, conserving millions of gallons of fresh water annually.
The painting that resulted was unintentional at the outset. When Tim looked through the pictures and videos, he realized what he needed to paint. “The Birds and The Bees” was created with oils on a 12″ x 24″ wood panel and is framed with locally sourced branches from northern Virginia. Using bright reds and deep purples to represent the passion in the relationship between the subjects. Repetitious circles both bring the pair together as well as divide the two, all while representing the eggs that this work of art will ultimately protect.