The African penguin, scientifically named ‘spheniscus demersus’, is the only wild penguin species in Africa. The birds, which are notable for spectacle-shaped spots on the skin around their eyes, inhabit the coasts of South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. Due to overfishing and pollution of the oceans, the African penguin population is considered endangered. Altogether, it is estimated that there are only about 50,000 of these penguins left.
It is therefore all the more important to provide these penguins with a near-natural habitat. Twelve African penguins now find that habitat in a specially designed facility with land and water zones in the ZOOM Adventure World in Gelsenkirchen. The pool in the African section extends over 240 square meters and is filled with 315 cubic meters of water, in which the twelve birds can now swim and dive. There is a reason for the dimensions: African penguins need to go outdoors, and when looking for food they will swim up to 50 kilometers each day. The penguins can now be observed by visitors to the zoo through an underwater window. On land, rock formations provide retreats, and the shore and sand areas are modelled on South Africa’s native beaches. “The face of district heating in our supply areas of Essen, Bottrop and Gelsenkirchen are the climate cavaliers, represented by emperor penguins. This makes us feel all the more connected to their little relatives in the newly created penguin enclosure,” says Michael Straus. The commercial director of STEAG Fernwärme opened the ‘STEAG Fernwärme Penguin Bay’ together with Frank Baranowski, Mayor of Gelsenkirchen, Ulrich Köllmann, Managing Director of Stadtwerke Gelsenkirchen, and Dr. Hendrik Berendson, the director of ZOOM Erlebniswelt. “In their natural habitat, the African penguin population is declining despite measures to protect them,” as Michael Straus explains. “We are therefore all the more pleased that we can now become involved in protection of the species.”
STEAG Fernwärme would also like to share this commitment with potential visitors to Gelsenkirchen Zoo, especially families. The company has therefore raffled four tickets 50 times.