African Penguin

Conservation Status

IUCN: Endangered CITES: Appendix II  |  ESA: Endangered


State of the Species

Image of a graph depicting the decline of "Range-Wide African Penguin Population"

The African penguin is endemic to two countries in southern Africa. This species was relatively abundant as recently as the early twentieth century, but a suite of threats including habitat loss and massive declines in prey abundance have resulted in a steep population decline.

Image of 2010 - 2013 African Penguin Population Information The Need for SAFE

Between 2010-2013, AZA accredited zoos and aquariums spent more than $300,000 on African penguin field conservation. Learn more about this and other efforts undertaken by AZA member institutions, by visiting AZA's Conservation and Research Database.

Despite the tremendous efforts AZA members and partners have committed toward saving the African penguin, the species is still declining at an alarming rate and there is a clear need to approach conservation differently.  AZA SAFE provides a new approach for collaborative conservation.  Using a One Plan approach,  conservationists working to save a species work together to identify and prioritize the conservation needs of a species and then develops a 3-year Conservation Action Plan (CAP).  Each AZA SAFE Conservation Action Plan includes specific projects, goals, and actions that will address the needs of each species.

Learn more about the individual projects that comprise the AZA SAFE African Penguin Conservation Action Plan.

AZA Animal Program Leaders 

Penguin TAG Chair: Thomas Schneider, Detroit Zoo
Penguin TAG Vice Chair: 
Heather Urquhart, New England Aquarium 
SSP Coordinator: 
Steven Sarro, Smithsonian National Zoological Park
SSP Vice Coordinator: 
Gayle Sirpenski, Mystic Aquarium
Studbook Keeper:
Seana Flossic, Tulsa Zoo
African Penguin SSP Education Advisor
: Sheri Peters, Lehigh Valley Zoo


Find a Zoo or Aquarium Donate to AZA Contact Us Member Login Search the site