TULSA, Okla. (May 19, 2017) – African penguin populations have been declining for the past few decades. The Tulsa Zoo, an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is joining with the AZA and other accredited aquariums and zoos to take action and help reverse this trend.
On Endangered Species Day the zoo announces its support for the Invest In The Nest campaign on Kickstarter, the innovative crowdfunding platform. The campaign seeks to raise $150,000 to help build and place 1,500 artificial nests for African penguins in South Africa and Namibia.
“The Tulsa Zoo has been involved in African penguin and other wildlife conservation since 1997, supporting more than 360 conservation projects,” said Terrie Correll, Tulsa Zoo president and CEO. “Our African penguin animal care professionals provide expert care to our birds every day, and we’re applying that expertise directly to help these wild colonies. The Invest in the Nest Kickstarter campaign is a great way for the public to join us in helping save African penguins in the wild.”
Penguin and other seabird guano used to be several feet deep on the coastal islands and beaches of South Africa, a perfect substrate to build underground burrows for nesting. The guano was harvested to be used as fertilizer more than one hundred years ago, but has not recovered.
“African penguins have been nesting out in the open, often exposed to heat stress and predators,” said Seana Flossic, Tulsa Zoo bird keeper and African penguin SSP studbook keeper. “The artificial nests are desperately needed to give the penguins a climate- controlled and safe place to lay eggs and raise chicks.”
Also, Tulsa Zoo is supporting SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction ®, a program that brings together the expertise and resources of AZA, its members and partners, to help save species from extinction. Establishing new artificial nests is a priority identified in the AZA SAFE African penguin conservation action plan, and necessary to help save African penguins.
“We’re always excited about campaigns that expand our worldview and actively contribute to innovation around the globe. Invest In The Nest is pushing boundaries in the practice of conservation and bringing optimism and direct action to the Kickstarter backer community,” says Clarissa Redwine, Kickstarter’s Design and Technology Outreach Lead for the West Coast. “This conservation effort takes backers through the process of designing, building, and installing habitat structures that will help save endangered African penguins, helping Kickstarter backers play a vital part in protecting wildlife.”
Supporters of the campaign won’t go away empty-handed. A variety of rewards is available for backing the Kickstarter campaign, including exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunities at some of the best aquariums and zoos in the country, as well as original penguin art, symbolic penguin adoption kits, t-shirts, totes, posters and more.
“AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos believe we should do more to help save species, which is why we started SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “We brought together scientists and engineers to help us design the best nest for African penguins. Now we need the public’s help to build and place the nests in South Africa. Invest In The Nest is an opportunity for anyone to help save a species!”
If fully funded, the nests will be constructed by hand in South Africa, helping to create jobs for residents.
To back or follow the campaign, visit the Invest In The Nest campaign page on Kickstarter.