How Tanganyika Contributes to Penguin Conservation

The population of African penguins has seen a significant decline, dropping by 95%, due to overfishing of their prey, notably fish like sardines and anchovies. This depletion of their food source poses a grave threat to the survival of these charismatic birds in their natural habitat.

Tanganyika isn’t just a spectator. It’s actively involved via its penguin park, where its successful breeding program ensures a healthy population in human care, preserving the genetic diversity of the entire species.

Tanganyika directly supports Dyer Island, known for its conservation trust, and the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary. This support provides a vital lifeline for injured and vulnerable birds, among other conservation initiatives. Tanganyika’s dedication to hosting events and fundraisers not only fosters community engagement but also enables generous donations to conservation groups and their penguin park. This commitment translates into tangible actions that play a crucial role in the ongoing battle against penguin extinction.

In this blog, we will learn more about the penguin species at Tanganyika and how guests can help support penguin conservation

A Look at the Types of Penguins at Tanganyika


So, what types of penguins are at Tanganyika? Only one. African Black-footed Penguins. Sometimes, people are surprised to hear that penguins are native to Africa since we often associate them with cold weather. Here are some fun facts about these majestic creatures:

Fun facts about African Black-footed Penguins

  • Ability to swim 12 miles per hour: African penguins are master swimmers, reaching speeds of about 7-9 mph and diving to impressive depths exceeding 426 feet. Holding their breath for over 2.5 minutes, they navigate the ocean with remarkable agility.
  • They sound like a donkey: Earning the nickname “jackass penguins,” these birds are known for their distinct vocalizations. Their calls sound remarkably like a donkey’s bray, used for communication, especially during breeding season. Listen closely to their “honking” and “braying” chorus. It’s quite a unique symphony!
  • They have devoutly devoted partners: African penguins are monogamous, mate for life, and share parenting duties equally. Witnessing a pair of penguins diligently take care of their chicks is a heartwarming scene.
  • They have bare patches with a purpose: Unlike other penguins, African penguins have bare patches on their faces and legs. These areas serve an important function, helping them regulate their body temperature by allowing excess heat to escape, especially in warmer climates.
  • They molt once a year: African penguins molt (shed their old feathers for new ones) once a year. This ensures they have the perfect coat for each season and allows them to maintain optimal temperature in both hot and cold water.
  • They thrive in bustling colonies for safety and chick-rearing support.: African penguins nest in large colonies, forming close bonds with their neighbors. These communities provide a sense of security and support for raising young chicks. Witnessing a penguin colony teeming with activity is a truly mesmerizing sight.
  • They are endangered: Sadly, African penguins are classified as endangered. Threats like habitat loss, oil spills, and overfishing pose significant challenges to their survival. However, dedicated penguin conservation efforts are underway, giving hope for their future.


While all species of penguins have their similarities—they’re all flightless, have black and white coats, and are utterly captivating—they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here are just a few other types of penguins from different regions that have distinct features:


  •  Fairy Blue Penguins: Fairy blue is the smallest species of penguin, resembling a blue and white bumblebee on waddling feet. Native to Australia and New Zealand, Blue Penguins only weigh 2-3 pounds! 
  •  Emperor penguins: The Emperor penguin is the largest of the penguin species, towering over its kin at up to 4.3 feet tall. It radiates regal elegance with its yellow chest and sleek black feathers. Emperor penguins are also one of the most recognizable penguin species, having been featured in popular movies like “Happy Feet,” “March of the Penguins,” and “Surf’s Up.”
  • The King Penguins: They are primarily found on the subantarctic islands surrounding Antarctica, remote islands, and other regions. They sport vibrant orange crests atop their heads, adding a splash of color to their otherwise black and white attire.
  • The Gentoo Penguin: It is known for its flipper displays, especially during mating season. It has a white patch around the eyes that extends across the top of its head, contrasting with its black back and head. Its flippers are black and white, and it has bright orange-red bill and feet.
  • Rockhopper Penguin: While most penguins are black and white, some species, like the Rockhopper Penguin, have splashes of yellow and orange on their heads and necks. They have yellowish-orange crests of feathers on the top of their heads, giving them a type of mohawk. Their eyes are bright red, and they have a pinkish-orange patch of skin around their bills. Their backs are black with white undersides, and they have pink webbed feet.
  • The Galapagos Penguins: These penguins are found north of the equator and have a reddish-brown chest, unique among their kind. They are relatively small compared to other penguins. Approximately standing around 19 to 21 inches tall and weighing only 4.4 to 11 pounds. They have black feathers on their backs and wings, with white feathers on their fronts. They also have a distinctive black band running across their chest and sides.


Visit us today to get a chance to have a one-on-one experience with these African penguins in the park.

What You Can Experience at This Penguin Park 

Tanganyika Wildlife Park provides two unforgettable penguin park experiences, each contributing to the ultimate goal of penguin conservation. The first and most popular experience is the penguin swim, allowing visitors to engage closely with these fascinating birds in their aquatic environment. 


The second experience is the penguin meet and greet. This experience provides an opportunity for an up-close encounter with the penguins in a more interactive setting. By participating in these experiences, visitors not only create lasting memories but also support initiatives dedicated to penguin conservation work by learning from our trainers what they should know about these fascinating creatures. Now, let’s dive into the details of each of these remarkable encounters.

Penguin Swim

The penguin swim experience offers you an incredible, amazing, and indescribable adventure with a penguin species known as the African Penguin. Tanganyika is one of the few places in the United States that offers this unique opportunity. Some of the activities to expect include:


  •  Getting up close and personal with penguins: You’ll share a pool with these feathered friends, observing their playful personalities as they swim around you. You’ll get the chance to play with toys, and they’ll even float in your hands.
  • Learning from the experts: A penguin keeper will accompany you through the session. They can answer your questions, and share fascinating facts and insights about each penguin.
  • Capturing the memories: Photos of you interacting with the penguins will be taken throughout your experience. Whether you choose to share them on Instagram, display them on your fridge, or frame them above your mantle, these pictures capture the essence of a distinct and memorable experience.

Penguin Meet and Greet

The penguin meet and greet is a perfect opportunity to interact closely with the penguins in the park. The offerings to expect in this experience include:


  •  Direct interaction: You’ll have the unique opportunity to get face-to-face with the penguins.
  • Playful encounters: Get ready for laughter as you participate in a play session with the penguins. They are known for their fun-loving spirit and unique personalities.
  •  Learning from the experts: Tanganyika trainers will be present to share their knowledge about different types of penguins. They will answer any questions you have about these fascinating birds.

The Role of Tanganyika in Penguin Conservation 

Beyond its borders as a regional gem, Tanganyika Wildlife Park also represents the evolving role of modern zoos in global conservation efforts. Tanganyika Wildlife Park plays a crucial role in penguin conservation through both education and direct action. Below are some of the initiatives we undertake in penguin conservation work;

  • Empowering People: We raise awareness by educating visitors about the threats penguins face and simple actions they can take to help. Lowering fish consumption, choosing sustainable options with the Seafood Watch app, and reducing plastic usage are all powerful tools in our collective toolbox.
  • Supporting Breeding: Our unique genetic pool contributes significantly to breeding programs across various US zoos. This ensures healthy penguin populations for generations to come.
  • Global Partnerships: We actively collaborate with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in South Africa. We support their penguin rehabilitation, rehoming efforts, and even nest box-building initiatives.

In conclusion, Tanganyika Wildlife Park is making significant strides in penguin conservation through its dedicated efforts and innovative programs. Tanganyika provides unforgettable encounters for visitors by offering unique experiences such as the penguin swim and meet-and-greet in hopes to educate our visitors of our conservation efforts. 

Tanganyika’s active support for global conservation initiatives and successful breeding programs underscores its commitment to preserving this endangered species. Every visit to Tanganyika Wildlife Park directly contributes to the ongoing battle against penguin extinction. This demonstrates how local actions can have a global impact. Join us in supporting these magnificent creatures and ensuring their survival for generations.

For more information and a chance to experience an unforgettable adventure filled with fun, learning, and memories, contact us today or read a blog to learn more.

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