|Richard Rosevear, Director of Animal Welfare and Conservation
Lehigh Valley Zoo
March 1, 2017
|Schnecksville, PA – Last year Don made national news as the penguin rejected by her colony. Don and her sister Dewey had been the best of friends in Saginaw Michigan’s Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square until Dewey found a male companion. Dewey no longer had much time for Don and the rest of the colony didn’t seem to have much interest in her either. Although the zoo staff were fond of her, Don was lonely amongst the penguins.
Don’s plight was brought to the attention of the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) program which is charged with maintaining a genetically healthy and sustainable population of the species in zoos and aquariums. During their breeding and transfer planning Don’s situation was considered and it was decided to send her to Lehigh Valley Zoo where she would have an opportunity to become part of a new colony and, perhaps, find a companion.
Happily for Don, that is exactly what happened. After a brief period when the penguins were unsure of a stranger in their midst, Don became an accepted member of the Lehigh Valley Zoo colony. She, also, gained a regular companion in Clytee, a male penguin. This is an ideal situation since Don and Clytee are a possible breeding pair as determined by the African Penguin SSP program. The two will soon be encouraged to nest and, hopefully, produce some penguin chicks.
Penguins, Thulani and Greer hatched the first two endangered African penguin chicks at Lehigh Valley Zoo in September, 2016. The Zoo has hopes Don and Clytee will be every bit as successful.
African penguins are an endangered species due to loss of habitat and nesting sites, oil spills and decrease in food supply from overfishing. Lehigh Valley Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) African Penguin SSP program which recommends scientifically determined breeding and transfer of the birds in order to maintain a healthy genetic and sustainable population. Lehigh Valley Zoo is in support of African penguins in the wild and cooperates with AZA’s SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) Program, which has selected the African penguin as one of its signature species, to ensure its continued existence.
As a member-supported non-profit organization, Lehigh Valley Zoological Society was founded in 2004, but as a treasured community landmark, the Zoo’s history spans over a century. Founded in 1906 by General Harry C. Trexler, a local industrialist, the Lehigh Valley’s Trexler Game Preserve has educated and entertained more than five million people.