For immediate release
Rescued Penguins Find a Safe Home at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
May 19, 2011 - Jacksonville, Fl -
It was a long journey for four young Magellanic penguins who are thought to have started their migration from the southern tip of South America, became stranded on a beach in Brazil and are now living at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
The penguins were among 13 fledglings that washed up on the shore at Rio de Janeiro. The frail and emaciated birds were rescued by staff members of Niteroi Zoo and taken to their rehabilitation center. After the penguins had recovered, because of their young age and the length of stay at the rehabilitation center, they were considered “imprinted” and unable to survive in the wild as they had lost their fear of humans.
Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ facility, contacted the Niteroi Zoo and the Brazilian government to offer to assist in finding safe, permanent homes for the penguins in the United States. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens was one of the four AZA zoos selected.
“There are lots of ways the zoo helps endangered species. But, it’s not often we are in a position to rescue wild animals in trouble,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “This was one of those rare opportunities for us to step forward and create a home for these fledglings that somehow lost their mother. We’re thrilled that they’ll be joining our popular penguin exhibit.”
More and more incidents like this are occurring along the Atlantic Coast of South America. These penguins are not normally found much farther north than the Falkland Islands. The locations of their food sources are changing, perhaps due to climate change, and they have to travel farther in search of food.
The new penguins have gone through quarantine and after being introduced to the Zoo’s flock, will be released into their new home, the Tuxedo Coast penguin exhibit.
For more than 96 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been dedicated to inspiring discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experience in a caring environment. Since its beginning in 1914, with an animal collection that consisted of only one red deer fawn, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has become one of the top zoos in the nation. It now features more than 1,800 rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 unique plant species. Preservation of sustainable biodiversity is a key mission of the Zoo. The Zoo is a non-profit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is open year-round, seven-days-a-week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located on Jacksonville’s north side at 370 Zoo Parkway, one-half mile east from I-95. For more information, go to jacksonvillezoo.org.