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    Urgent Effort to Save South African Penquins


    by NTDTelevision

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    Researchers across North America are in a race against time to save the South African penguin from extinction. Biologists hope they can keep a genetically diverse population of penguins in captivity until fishing and climate change can be controlled enough for them to survive in the wild.

    They may be living the good life here in captivity but, in the wild, the South African penguin is in trouble.

    It is the only penguin species that breeds in Africa and it's numbers are plummeting.

    In 2010, the penguin was added to the US Endangered Species list.

    In a little over a century, their numbers have dropped from more than a million to fewer than 80,000 - and if current trends continue - experts say none will be left in the wild in a few short decades.

    Biologists at the California Academy of Sciences, along with zoos across North America are working to ensure that the penguins have a fighting chance.

    Brooke Weinstein is a biologist at the Academy.

    [Brooke Weinstein, Biologist, California Academy of Sciences]:
    "We are part of what is called the species survival plan. We work together with numerous other zoos and aquarium in North America just to make sure that we are maintaining a genetically viable population of these birds in captivity. "

    The South African penguin is also known as the Jackass penguin because it sounds remarkably similar to a donkey when it communicates.

    But no amount donkey braying will help them in their fight for survival.

    According to biologists, climate change combined with commercial fishing are pushing the penguins to the brink of extinction.

    Weinstein says the problems the birds face in the wild are "over-arching." She says the only way to keep the species from dying out is by breeding them in captivity.