AZA News Releases

Thousands Take Action to Help Save Endangered African Penguins and “Invest In The Nest”

Over 2,200 people contribute to Kickstarter crowd-funded success story.

SILVER SPRING, Md. – Following a 30-day campaign, over 2,200 supporters from across the U.S. and around the world joined the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), its members and partners in taking direct action to help save African penguins from extinction. The $193,560 raised through the “Invest In The Nest” campaign on Kickstarter will build and place over 2,000 artificial nests in South Africa and Namibia.

“African penguin populations have been declining for the past few decades, and through the “Invest In The Nest” campaign, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, partner organizations and thousands of individuals are taking action to help save African penguins from extinction,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “We had a feeling the Kickstarter community was the right place to help us with this project, and they did not disappoint. The outpouring of support has been incredible, and now we are ready to get to work on the ground in Africa.”

The artificial nests were developed by a team of penguin experts from both the U.S. and South Africa. Several prototypes were built and tested, along with a variety of construction materials, before settling on a final design. This fall, the nests will be constructed by hand in South Africa, helping to create jobs for residents.

“Our team is proud to support a project that has clearly inspired a notable community of backers to help bring this thoughtful design solution to life and seize the chance to save an endangered species. We can’t wait to see this take shape out in the wild," said Clarissa Redwine, Kickstarter's Design and Technology Outreach Lead for the West Coast.

In true Kickstarter style, backers of “Invest In The Nest” picked from a variety of special rewards including a penguin charm bangle from ALEX + ANI, an exclusive print from wildlife artist Tim Davison and many one-of-a-kind behind-the-scenes opportunities at some of the best aquariums and zoos in the country.

AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction® is 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.

The AZA SAFE African penguin artificial nest project team, coordinated through the Dallas Zoo, is working closely with both the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria on the design, testing, and production of the artificial nests. The cross-continent collaboration will continue as the first installment of nests is produced and placed in colonies around South Africa and Namibia later this fall.

Stonyfield, the country’s leading organic yogurt maker and a proud sponsor of AZA SAFE, helped AZA reach its campaign goal by kicking in $30,000 right from the start.

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

About SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction®

SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit


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