Who loves penguins? A lot of people, apparently, since they have their own holiday in the third week of January!
What’s your first memory of penguins?
Probably the zoo, or a documentary in elementary school, if you aren’t from a penguin-friendly climate. They’re so clumsy and amazing and precious. Don’t you just feel cuteness and adoration when you think about penguins? ?
My first memory of penguins is at the Denver Zoo, where there was (and probably still is) a plaque by the penguin exhibit, showing why it was so bad to throw wishing coins into the pond where the penguins lived.
The penguins think that coins are shiny fish scales and they eat them! And their stomachs fill with coins, and their bodies fill with toxic zinc and copper, and they get very sick and/or die. In nature, this is similar to why they eat plastics as well.
That was one of the first things in my early childhood that made me start raising an eyebrow at human activity and how it affected wild animals… Well, ok… zoo life was about as far as I took it when I was 4!
Sadly, I just read an article from The Denver Post that admitted that this is still such a huge problem that they routinely check their penguins with a metal detector, and do surgeries to remove coins! One penguin had eaten 71 cents! Maybe they should spend that money to have security stand there and kick people out of the zoo for coin tossing instead? Just stating the obvious…
But beyond the zoo, the penguins need us to do better!
And for as many penguin lovers as we have out there, I think we can do better for the Penguins. Human activity has a large impact on the endangerment and/or threat to approximately 15 species of penguins, and I’m about to explain the main reasons how. If you love penguins, I call for you to up your game and upgrade your life by moving out of more and more practices that endanger these precious beings and so many others.
Here are the main ways that penguins are endangered or threatened by human activity, and daily living tips to help you personally opt out!
Penguins are threatened by their own physical limitations.
There’s not a lot you can do about that, but it’s worth mentioning- it puts them at a disadvantage to begin with. Can you imagine being a Weeble Wobble with tiny legs that didn’t bend, and HUGE feet? Kind of hard to get away from a predator or a natural disaster. Also, they don’t reproduce very fast or very young- and usually only 1-2 eggs per time. Those that live near coasts are more threatened by predators and human activity overall.
Penguins do not adapt well to changes in weather in general, and several species also nest in ice. Ice disappears with global warming. Many of their food supplies can also be endangered by the rising oceans as the ice melts.
What you can do to reduce your global warming impact:
It takes some time to explain how your energy and trash use affects global warming, but it does, in huge ways. Here’s a quick start:
Turn off all unused lights and appliances, anytime they’re not being used. And turn down the heat and air conditioning by 2 degrees. Unplug as many things as possible when they are not in use. Energy runs through that cord if it’s plugged in, costing you and the Earth.
The energy plants that feed your house electricity are a huge contributor to global warming, as are the factories and processes that make your lightbulbs. If you are a bit religious about this it actually will make a difference!
There are a whole bunch of energy, heat, cooling, and water-saving tips at our FAQ page!
Drive less! more on that in another section below.
Use as little plastic as possible
...and be responsible with properly recycling or disposing of it.
On many occasions, penguin carcasses are found with life threatening amounts of plastic trash in their
stomach, or they appear to have died by becoming entangled in the plastic.
Use as little as possible, recycle as much as possible, and pick up “non-threatening” trash that you see, and get it to the right bin! You can even organize a day where you and your friends go out and do this.
It actually makes a humongous difference in sea birds’ and creatures’ lives, because plastic pieces of litter will travel thousands of miles and end up in the ocean and on beaches. You can help stop that process by picking it up. Triple bonus points for recycling it if possible!
Compost food scraps and unrecyclable paper.
Food is not made for landfills and landfills are not made for food. You can feed the Earth incredible nutrients and love with your food trash by composting. But don’t throw it away! Putting your food waste in the landfill is one of the biggest contributors of all to global
Food scraps actually create the gas that is largely responsible for global warming, when they are put in a landfill and covered with more trash so quickly that they don’t get a chance to decompose.
“According to the US Environmental Protection Agency 20% of what goes into Municipal landfills is food waste”- 35 million tons in 2012. That’s a lot! Check out this empowering and informative NPR article.
Then, see how you can get started, even if you live in an apartment in the city here.
Overfishing and irresponsible fishing endangers penguin species-
Overfishing and irresponsible fishing both deplete the penguin’s source of food, and contaminate the water. Net style fishing frequently traps penguins accidentally.
How to do better for the Earth and penguins:
To avoid this, you must be conscious of which types of fish you eat and whether or not they are overfished. It’s also imperative to
research the companies that provide your fish, and know their sustainability practices.
All of this in addition to which fish are healthy/not healthy to eat? Yes, this is a very sticky area but it can be navigated! This article will help more than you ever thought possible.
Habitat and water contamination threaten the penguins-
Oil spills are an ongoing threat. They cause damage to the feathers, causing death by freezing, and also poison the penguins and everything around.
Oil spills pesticides and other chemicals also poison the food supply and the penguins.
What you can do?
Drive less and find alternative transportation modes.
Car pollution and manufacture, plus drilling for oil is a major contributor to global warming, and a very direct exact cause of oil Drilling and oil spills. The less you can use the better.
Use less stuff overall.
It takes oil to make your stuff and transport it around the world to you. Respect it and buy less.
Eat more Organics.
Chemical pesticides and herbicides (which are not on organic foods) ruin environments and are one of the things that end up in the ocean poisoning the Penguins and everything else.
Sooo. How many ways can you up your game to start saving penguins and other wild animals? Go to our FAQ section to get more details on a lot of this information, and more ideas on how you can do better to feel better!