Seneca Park Zoo celebrates its African penguins on World Penguin Day

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It’s World Penguin Day and our reporter Bekka Fifield visited the Seneca Park Zoo to learn a little bit about its African penguins.

“It’s our day that we celebrate all things penguin and we take this opportunity to make people aware of what’s going on with penguins around the world,” Zookeeper Kevin Blakely said.

Blakely said the penguins at the Seneca Park Zoo are not the snow and ice-loving kind.

“We have African penguins. These guys are found on the southern tip of Africa. They are obviously a warm climate penguin,” Blakely said.

The zoo has 30 of these African penguins; some that love people, and others that would rather keep their distance.

“That’s one of the things you have to learn working with them, is the different personalities and who you want to be close to and who you might want to avoid,” Blakely said.

One curious penguin, Kayden, has a reputation of not liking people. But I was lucky enough that he let me pet him. While Gizmo and Bonkers love being around people, and specifically loved the camera.

“Our penguins here are used to being around people and so they’re a little more friendly with us,” Blakely said.

Something zoo-goers may not know is that African penguins are endangered.

“Today their biggest issue is just overfishing of their waters and unsustainable fishing of their waters. They’re having a hard time finding enough fish to feed themselves and to feed their chicks,” Blakely said.

Seneca Park Zoo has been doing what it can to increase the number of African penguins.

“Over the years this has been a successful breeding colony. Most of the 30 penguins we have here were hatched right here. Over the years we’ve hatched 114,” Blakely said.

The zoo has been able to send some African penguins to zoos around the continent.

“We actually have penguins at 30 other zoos and aquariums around North America. We’ve sent penguins as far away as Hawaii.”

The zoo works with the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds to try to help.

“They work with these guys right on the front line, right in South Africa,” Blakely said.

Just by purchasing tickets to the Seneca Park Zoo, you are helping their conservation efforts to help animals like the endangered African penguins.