January 20 is National Penguin Awareness Day

Graphic above courtesy Ocean Portal, Smithsonian Institution

January 20th is the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens first recognition of National Penguin Awareness Day. Everyone in El Paso will soon be making plans to come to the Zoo when later this year we open our new Magellanic Penguin Exhibit. The date has not be determined yet, but if you follow this blog with a free subscription or follow us on social media you will find out just when Penguin Mania in El Paso will begin.

Magellanic Penguins by dfaulder, Wikimedia Creative Commons

One of the ways you can celebrate the 18 species of penguins in the world is to get a good book on penguins. Just search online and you will discover a number of interesting titles for both children and adults. You can also check for titles at your local library.

King Penguins with Magellanic Penguin coming out of a burrow in to the right by Elizabeth Oliver, Wikimedia Creative Commons

Did you know that of the 18 species of penguins five species are endangered? According to Oceana the top five threats to penguins and what you can do to help are overfishing, plastic pollution, industrial development, invasive predators and climate change. The International Union for the Conservation of Natures lists the following statuses for each species.

Emperor – Near Threatened
King – Least Concern
Royal – Least Concern
Adelie – Least Concern
Macaroni – Vulnerable
Gentoo – Least Concern
Galapagos – Endangered
Magellanic – Least Concern
Humboldt – Vulnerable
African – Endangered
Snare – Vulnerable
Fiordland – Near Threatened
Little Blue – Least Concern
Yellow Eye – Endangered
Erect Crested – Endangered
Northern Rockhopper – Endangered
Southern Rockhopper – Vulnerable
Chinstrap – Least Concern

Definition of Status Categories

Endangered: An animal or plant is Endangered when it is not Critically Endangered, but is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.

Critically Endangered: An animal or plant is Critically Endangered when it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.

Vulnerable: An animal or plant is Vulnerable when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered but is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.

Near Threatened: An animal or plant has been evaluated against the criteria for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable but is close to qualifying for a threatened category in the near future.

Least Concern: The species is still plentiful in the wild.

Cover image by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo, Wikimedia Creative Commons

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