Saturday, 13 October, SANCCOB (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) and numerous other local and international organisations, zoos and aquariums celebrated African Penguin Awareness Day (APAD). APAD is a day dedicated to raising worldwide awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin. SANCCOB, together with SANParks and Boulders Beach Lodge and Restaurant, hosted the 12th annual Simon’s Town Penguin Festival to commemorate APAD.
The festival kicked off with the release of 41 African penguins rehabilitated at SANCCOB, back into the wild at Seaforth Beach (Simon’s Town). The group was part of the 254 seabirds that were admitted to SANCCOB due to the SELI 1 oil slick that occurred off Table Bay on 1 September 2012. Amongst the large group of spectators was a school group from the Dominican School for the Deaf in Wynberg who had the special honours of tipping the penguin boxes over for the release. The moving event was broadcasted live to a jam-packed crowd at Iziko Museum as part of Iziko’s Marine Week exhibition with SANCCOB.
After the release, members of the public found their way to the two large marquee tents in front of Boulders Beach Lodge and Restaurant for the festival. This year’s festival featured a cooking demonstration by a celebrity SASSI chef, an African penguin poem read by Michaela Strachan (international wildlife presenter), a snake and reptile show, a birds of prey demonstration, live spider exhibit, food stalls and loads of ‘edutainment’ for the kids. Visitors also had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with SANCCOB’s famous ambassador penguin. All proceeds of the festival were donated to SANCCOB and their conservation work with African penguins.
SANCCOB’s Development Director, Margaret Roestorf, said, ”APAD is such a great event - it brings people, big and small, together to celebrate these special creatures – this year we had the biggest turn-out in the history of the event. Personally I just loved the live Skype with the audience at Iziko Museum, from what I could gather, they were having every bit as much fun as the crowd at the release in Simon’s Town. Thanks to our big-hearted partners and sponsors, and the public who embraced the day whole-heartedly, and of course to the kind Cape Town weatherman, who all contributed towards the success of the day”.