I know. It sounds like the punch-line from a Far Side cartoon, but the African penguin is also called the Jackass penguin. Yeah, they need to work on their PR a little.
Anyway, in South Africa more than 100 of the endangered penguins were released back into the wild after an oil slick off a nearby coast.
A sunken trawler is the likely cause.
African penguins are already in trouble. Nowadays, there are only about 36,000 breeding pairs left. That’s a drop of 75% during the last 50 years.
It took conservationists 4 weeks to rehab the little guys, involving rounds of medication, hand-feeding and blood tests—and not to mention, smushing their itty-bitty cute faces.
On the day of their release, countless spectators lined the beach to see the little tuxedo-wearers off. One volunteer said, "It's been very emotional working with them and seeing them go, hopefully they'll be ok."
Researchers expected it would take the penguins a few weeks to swim back to their home along the coast of Namibian. Jackass penguins huddle together to keep predators at bay and last reports say the little guys completed the journey and are doing fine.
Clearly, we have to do a better job protecting these tankers, maybe wrapping them in worn out mattresses and old truck tires—or at the very least, when one sinks we clean it up!
Then again, kicking our oil addiction and not hauling millions of gallons of crude oil across our vulnerable oceans sounds like the BEST idea.