Penguin campaign: Waddle for a week

The sixth annual Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week will take place from Monday April 11 to Saturday April 16.

The Waddlers will set off from Gansbaai and walk to Simon’s Town over six days. Along the way they will raise awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin and collect promises as part of the Penguin Promises campaign.

The campaign was started in 2011 by the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria. It encourages people to make changes which have a positive impact on the environment.

The 16 waddlers, tackling the 120km walk, are animal keepers from around the country as well as other penguin enthusiasts and environmental supporters.

This year the first international participant, from Devon Zoo in the UK, joins the group.

“The main thing I’m looking forward to is the opportunity to make a positive impact, however small, on the future of African sea birds through education. I fully believe that if I can convince just a few people to make small positive changes in their lifestyles while either on the Waddle or back home at the zoo, then all the effort will have paid of,” said Leitza Gorman from Devon Zoo.

The African penguin is the only penguin species found on the African continent. It is endemic to the southern African coastline and occurs from Namibia to Algoa Bay.

These birds face extinction as their numbers continue to decline. Reduced food availability due to overfishing, climate change and habitat destruction are some of the factors taking their toll.

You can support by simply promising to make a change in your daily life. These promises are funnelled through the Penguin Promises campaign and can be submitted to ipromise@penguinpromises.com

Promises should be simple and achievable. Some examples of promises include: declining straws, using reusable shopping bags rather than plastic bags, taking quick showers rather than bathing, choosing only sustainable seafood, and adhering to water by-laws, to name but a few.

The Waddle for a Week and Penguin Promises campaign are not fundraisers – rather they aim to facilitate long-term behaviour change. Penguin Promises has been adopted as an international awareness campaign of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

On the final day of the Waddle, Saturday April 16, the group will depart from Surfer’s Corner at Muizenberg and will walk to Simon’s Town, where they are due to arrive at 1pm.

For more information about the Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week, you can visit www.penguinpromises.com or email Hayley McLellan on hayley.mclellan@ aquarium.co.za