Penguins: you might know them as a sweet little animal with a cute waddle. But did you know they’re threatened? It’s not for a reason you’d expect. The good news is, this weekend you have a chance to meet and help some penguins, right here in Western New York.
The Aquarium of Niagara will be hosting “Penguin Days” to celebrate the first birthdays, known as “hatch days,” of it’s two youngest Humboldt penguins Smitty and Jules. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
While families can enjoy all sorts of fun festivities from demonstrations, encounters, and even a unique ice sculptures, the educational focus is on why we should protect penguins. As Aquarium President and CEO Gary Siddall told WBFO, penguins like Smitty and Jules face a lot of problems in the wild, but not for a reason you might expect.
"Penguins are messy. They are the biggest mess makers in this building, and that's saying a lot, because we have over 120 different species of animals. But it's actually that mess, that's a problem for them out in the wild, because their guano, which is their waste product, is often harvested as a fertilizer for their communities living in the coast of Peru and Chile," said Siddall.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife service, Humboldt penguins burrow into their guano for shelter from heat and predators. So, when humans harvest guano, it takes away their homes.
“That's why they're so threatened as their habitats are destroyed and disrupted as a result of that guano harvesting. It creates a real problem for the species in the wild," said Siddall.
A portion of the proceeds from themed items in the gift shop will go towards helping these penguins in the wild.
All Penguin Days activities will be included in the cost of admission:
Children (12 & under): $14.95
Seniors (60+): $17.95
It is encouraged that tickets be bought online in advance, as not all walk-ins may be accomedated. To learn more and buy tickets, visit www.aquariumofniagara.org.