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 Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus Humboldti)
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Association for the Protection of Condors and Penguins of Peru
Saving wild penguins and vultures!
The APCPP is a NGO (non-governmental organisation) in Peru which aims to to engage Peruvians in the conservation of a unique environment and species. The charity works in two projects, Illescas reserve and Puerto Eten Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre on the north coast of Peru. Increased human activity in this area has decreased wildlife numbers, due to pollution and poaching, as well as over-fishing. In particular, king vultures and Andean condors used to be seen flying in large numbers across this region, and colonies of Humboldt penguin nested in their thousands along the coastline.

Today these populations are declining at an alarming rate, with there now being only 60 Humboldt penguins and around 30 Andean condors, and no king vultures at all. Remaining individuals are forced even further afield from the area to look for food. The main aim of the APCPP is to protect and support the local wildlife and to encourage populations of threatened species back into the area, assisting SERNANP (El Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado -the national service of protected natural areas by the state) in its aims.


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    Puerto Eten

    Situated around 150km from the Illescas reserve, our focus in this area is a rescue centre for mistreated animals. As well as caring for wild birds, we also take in penguins that have been mistreated, with a view to rehabilitating and reintroducing them back into the wild. Many of the penguins are brought to the centre from across Peru were captured to be kept as pets. These animals must be brought back to a good condition before they can return to the wild.

    Due to the areas isolated location, it is an ideal re-release project that aims to give the penguins the best chance at life once they have been released.

    We also support scientific research projects in Puerto Eten, and raise awareness of the issues local animals face in an interpretation centre. We present educational talks, workshops and activities. The local football stadium also hosts an annual festival to promote the project, which includes arts and crafts, music, competitions and various other activities and exhibitions.


    Illescas Reserve

    Illescas reserve is an isolated peninsula in northern Peru, between the Andes mountains and Sechura desert to the east, with the pacific ocean to the west. The climate of this region is controlled by two oceanic currents, the cold current of Humboldt and the hot equatorial current running from the north. This creates an ideal aquatic environment for marine life, while the sheltered bay provides the perfect breeding habitat for a number of sea bird colonies. For this reason, the area has been declared a “reserved zone” by SERNANP.

    One of the main issues here is overfishing. Losing this important source of food, not only do penguins struggle to survive, but other marine mammals such as dolphins and sea lions. Without these populations, there are fewer carcasses washing up on the shore to provide food for nearby vultures and condors. Our project works with fishing communities to ensure they rotate their fishing areas, meaning they are not always targeting these important sits. We provided our rangers with a boat to patrol the coast to ensure there is no illegal fishing or poaching taking place, in co-operation with the Peruvian Navy Coastguard. These rangers also patrol the beaches to reduce poaching and pollution in the area.

    We also man guard posts to prevent illegal entry for fishing or hunting, and support researchers to scientifically log and learn about the reserve.

    Finally, an important support to the project itself is our ecolodge, the “Punta Luna Ecolodge”, ideal for wildlife lovers and scientists to visit and observe the area and protected animals. Illescas is the only place on earth where the wild Andean condor has the tranquillity and sufficient carrion to make the population viable. In recent months, our teams have seen a high boost in condor sightings, with over 30 birds spotted in one area, a new record in condor surveillance at the reserve!

    Penguin Pairs Game - Humboldt Gallery

    Natural Neighbours

    There are many species of animal that live along the coasts of Chile and Peru. When we protect this habitat, we also protect many species that live there.

    Examples are:

    • American Oystercatcher
    • Humboldt Penguin (Safari Zoo)
    • Andean Condor (Safari Zoo)
    • Burrowing Owl
    • Marine Otter
    • Guanay Cormorant
    • Turkey Vulture (Safari Zoo)
    • Humpback Whale
    • Porpoises
    • Kelp Gull
    • Neotropic Cormorant
    • Peruvian Booby
    • Peruvian Diving Petrel
    • Red-legged Cormorant
    • South American Sea Lion

    Interactive Digital Colouring Book

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    Mini Quiz

    Humboldt Penguin -- IUCN Study Reportings

    Classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, these penguins have historically been affected by guano production reducing nest sites. More pressing concerns currently are over-fishing (reducing food sources for the penguins), climate change, ocean acidification and invasive species that may eat their eggs and young.

    Humboldt penguins are medium sized penguins named after the current they swim in. The current is cold water and can support many fish.

    They live in burrows in soil or rock or crevices in rocks, but spend most of their time at sea

    Conservation: Our related conservation charity is the APCPP- Association for Protection of Condors and Penguins of Peru. This project is based in north west Peru, where our rangers patrol the beaches to reduce pollution and poaching. We also work on reforesting the landscape, and work in collaboration with scientific research projects in the area. This project also works with fishing companies to ensure they rotate their fishing areas, preventing over-fishing and increasing food sources.

    Elements Of Diet In The Wild

    • Fish
    • Cephalopods
    • Crustaceans


    • Adult Humboldt (Avg cm)
    • Adult UK Male Human (Avg cm)


    • Adult Humboldt (Avg kg)
    • Adult UK Male Human (Avg kg)
    In Facilty
    1. IMG_2141
    2. IMG_2153

    Continent: South America
    Habitat: Coastal and island areas.
    Gestation: 39 days

    • They have to groom their feathers often to keep them waterproof and in good condition.
    • They are very agile swimmers, as they are hunted by many animals and this is their only method of escape.
    • They have long claws to climb with.
    • Unlike many birds, they have solid bones. These are used to keep them balanced in the water.
    • Experiments suggest that they can recognise the smell of their relatives and familiar penguins.

    Average Life Expectancy

    In The Wild : Up To 20Years
    In Captivity : Up To 30Years
    Living by the Humboldt Coast

    Humboldt penguins are named after the Humboldt current (which is itself named after an explorer called Alexander Von Humboldt) which is a cold water current that travels from near Antarctica up past Chile and Peru in South America. This cold current cools down coastal Chile and Peru, and makes the air dryer. It is fantastic for penguins because fish love cool water!

    Normally, the Humboldt current is cold and supports fish like sardines, anchovies and jack mackerel. Humboldt penguin hunt for small fish in the water. Sadly, the current is warmed up every 3-5 years because of a weather pattern called El Nino, which reduces the amount of fish in the water and makes fishing harder for penguins. Climate change exaggerates this effect.


    I EAT

    Fish, Crabs & Squid
    I EAT
    Fish, Crabs & Squid

    Humboldt Population Decline (IUCN Estimates)

    • Humboldt Population Average
    1. 13063217_10153638743658741_3512819662021698012_o
    2. 13041095_10153638743783741_5813527125880238752_o
    Humboldt penguins are becoming rarer in the wild. Classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, these penguins have historically been affected by guano production reducing nest sites. More pressing concerns currently are over-fishing (reducing food sources for the penguins), climate change, ocean acidification and invasive species that may eat their eggs and young. A species that is classed as vulnerable may have lost more than 50% of their population in the last 10 years. Many breeding colonies of the Humboldt penguin have been lost.
    There are three main threats for Humboldt penguins. Firstly, as their diet is almost entirely fish, over-fishing has probably caused much of their decline. Overfishing is made even worse in El Niño weather conditions, when the Humboldt current warms and less fish can be caught there. Secondly, harvesting of guano (penguin manure) devastated penguin populations, as the guano was used to dig nests. Guano harvesting was Peru’s biggest source of income for over a century. Lastly, dogs and human activity also disrupts and threatens penguins.

    We are working in an area of North West Peru in the Illescas Reserve. It is home to many threatened birds, including Andean condors, several types of vulture, and the endangered Humboldt Penguin. Human activity in the area has resulted in habitat destruction and pollution, with many of the local birds also being threatened by poaching and overfishing. Without areas to nest in and food to eat, wild populations were dropping at alarming rates.

    APCPP BLUE LOGO_LARGEOur project, the APCPP (Association for the Protection of Condors and Penguins of Peru), protects the beaches from human disruption, and patrols the coastline to prevent illegal fishing. We also rescue and rehabilitate penguins to be released into the wild, and set up feeding stations to ensure the survival of these species. The APCPP is solely funded by Safari Zoo Nature Foundation.

    Interactive Penguin Quiz