World Penguin Day at the Zoo with Sphenisco – Protection of the Humboldt Penguin e.V.

Landau, May 2, 2019
Did you know that April 25th is actually World Penguin Day? Even if it’s not generally known why this date was chosen and in what year it was first celebrated, the environmental group “Sphenisco – Schutz des Humboldt-Pinguins, e.V.” (founded in 2008 in Landau, Germany) sees this day as a very good opportunity to call people’s attention to the fact that the Humboldt Penguin’s main distribution area in Chile is doing extremely badly, and that on this day the Humboldt Penguin should be moved into the public’s focus! That was reason enough this year for the Landau Zoo and Sphenisco to use the First of May (a federal holiday) solely to send a signal out for the Penguins.
At the information and participation stand at the Landau Zoo, not just the little guests were able to learn many fascinating things about penguins. Who is who among the 18 different species of penguins that are distributed from New Zealand to Africa, and from there to South America in the southern hemisphere? Why is the Humboldt Penguin so threatened and what can each individual do in order to protect this species?

The motto of the day was “Turn the Zoo Guests into Species Protectors”. During both commented feedings, tips were given on how to buy sustainably-caught fish, how to avoid purchasing fertilizer with guano, and how to reduce plastic packaging. For overfishing, ocean pollution, the harvesting of guano on the breeding islands of the penguins and the therewith connected disturbances, as well as climate change are to blame for why the Humboldt Penguin is on the “Red List”. For many years, Sphenisco and its partners in Chile and Peru have been committed to setting up a marine protection area in the penguins’ main breeding area, located in northern Chile, in order to ensure the survival of the Humboldt Penguin.

Review – Klemens Pütz’s Book „Unverfrorene Freunde“

Hannover, 10. January 2019.

I thought I already knew everything about penguins. Well, let’s say I thought I knew almost everything. After all, we had been together twice on the Falkland Islands with our penguin researcher, Klemens Pütz. And the poor man had little chance to flee from my many questions..

I don’t know anyone who thinks penguins are stupid. They are simply wonderful. The more one deals with them, the more respect one has for their many accomplishments. That is at least how I see it. They never have vacation, there is no break from their daily routine, and they strictly follow the plan of life that evolution has set out for them. How exciting it must be to be allowed to research them. And that doing so is not Sunday stroll, is impressively described in his new book “Unverfrorene Freunde”. Since there are other professions that must be followed as well and we cannot all be penguin researchers, it is good that Klemens allows us to partake in his experiences.

Through reading, it quickly becomes clear that the on-site work is no bed of roses. As privileged a longer stay in the Antarctic is, it is always uncomfortable and cold. As wonderful as it sounds to travel to New Zealand as part of your occupation, the penguin research must be attended to as well. It is not a vacation. Upon return, one must present results, regardless of what the weather was like.

During one of our trips to the Falkland Islands, we were allowed to help. Klemens captured a number of Rockhopper Penguins, in order to take blood and feather samples from them, and to measure their beaks. The results of the samples were to help determine their genetic relatedness to one another. Wow, and we were there! I remember very well how difficult it was to capture those small and not shy penguins. Thus, I hadn’t the vaguest idea what it must be like to capture a 40 kilogram-heavy Emperor Penguin.

Klemens describes all of this in his book; the different characteristics of the different species of penguins, it’s fun, but also tragic. Only since the invention of GPS devices is it even possible to observe what the penguins do for so many months in the ocean. There are many open questions still to be answered.

The book is a mix of autobiography and a relaying of knowledge about these cute tuxedo wearers of the southern hemisphere. One becomes aware of the fact that the researchers are underway for months, and that the rest of the family is left home to deal with their daily tasks. But why bother with all of this? Why do penguins have to be researched? Klemens provides the answer to that in the introduction to his book: “Penguins are not just cute. They have something to say. The live under extreme conditions and perform adaptation adjustments of which we humans can only dream, on land as well as in the water. If the surrounding conditions change just a bit, the penguins show it to us immediately. Through them we see where the weak points are in the ecosystem upon which we humans are dependent.” Klemens thus puts his finger in the wound of our planet, in an unagitated manner, and without the moral finger-wagging. He lets the reader decide what to do with the Information.

I knew for quite some time that this book was going to be published. I had much time to anticipate its arrival. I read it all at once, only interrupted by going to work, eating and other such unavoidable things. I laughed while I was reading it, I was surprised and astonished, sometimes a bit envious, and I learned quite a bit, and that, although I thought I already knew everything about Penguins.

Birgit Roth

Translated by Erich Greiner

Anm.: Pictures Klemens Pütz

Sphenisco Receives Many Presents

Landau 8. January 2019.

At the end of the year, Sphenisco again received many gifts. Institutions and individuals have once again shown their support in a very generous way. The penugins and the board of directors were very pleased about the gifts received from

- Birgit Berends & Stefan Kirchhoff,                                                                                          
- Patricia Bohlen,
- Beate und Jürgen Elling,
- Herman und Elfriede Klamandt,
- Viola Lusga,                                                                                                                                     
- Jennifer Schulz-Majewski,                                                                                                            
- Birgit Windmüller,
- Zoo Berlin,
- Zoo Halle,
- Zoo Saarbrücken.

The donations provide Sphenisco the ability to continue their protection work for the Humboldt Penguin’s habitat. These gifts also show appreciation for the work of the entire association and the board of directors. Thank you very much!

Translated by Erich Greiner

Sphenisco Flyer now in French

Landau 6. January 2019.

As of the end of last year, Sphenisco’s flyer „Humboldt Penguins Need International Help“, is also available in French: „Les manchots de Humboldt ont besoin de votre aide“. It sounds dramatic, but it truly is a work of international efforts. The flyer was translated into French by Felicitas Le Saint (France), it was proofread by Nathalie Mersch (Luxembourg), the layout done by Karliese Greiner-Laurie (New York City, USA), it was printed in Germany and delivered in December to the Parc Merveilleux, in Luxembourg. The fairy tale and amusement park in Bettembourg is the only one in the entire grand duchy of Luxembourg and is visited by approximately 260,000 people each year..


Translated by Erich Greiner

Unverfrorene Freunde (Unabashed Friends)

The biologist Dr. Klemens Pütz, member of Sphenisco and Scientific Director of the Antarctic Research Trust, has published “Unverfrorene Freunde – My Life Among Penguins”. For over 30 years, Klemens Pütz has focused on penguins, traveled over and over to and lived in the Antarctic and the Subantarctic. “Unverfrorene Freunde” thus provides sound knowledge based on years-long research, personal first-hand experiences inspired by his enthusiasm for this beautiful bird in its dress suit.

Language: German


Translated by Erich Greiner

Unverfrorene Freunde

10 Years Sphenisco e.V. – Has the Work Been Worth It?

Hannover 10. July 2018.
For quite some time, a regular part of our plan for the year has been Sphenisco’s annual assembly on the last weekend in June.
How did it come to that? After returning from a trip to Antarctica and sensitized to penguins, we discovered a flyer from Sphenisco e.V. at the Penguin Museum in Cuxhaven. After we read through Sphenisco’s website, we requested admittance to the organization. Although we didn’t see any Humboldt Penguins in Antarctica, we figured this is about the entire species, is it not?
What drives us to drive to the Pfalz once a year, during the best summer weather, to sit at the school at the Landau Zoo and hear what was can be done for the Humboldt Penguin, so that they do not lose their habitat?