It's time to send in your applications for the 2016 Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week awareness campaign. Taking us from Gansbaai to Simon's Town, this six-day walk is all in honour of the endangered, endemic African penguin. Along the way, we hoot, educate, and inspire. We want people from all waddles of life to pledge to make a small change in their daily lives that'll make a big difference in the long run. 

Penguin Promises was hatched in 2011. The Animal Keepers of Africa (AKA) chose an endangered species with the goal of creating effective awareness in support of it. The African penguin was chosen because this species’ numbers are currently as low as 40 000 birds in the wild, compared to a very healthy population, about 100 years ago, of approximately 1.5 million.

The very first day of the very first Waddle: At the Great White House in Gansbaai

Scientists fear that this species could go extinct within the next 15 years should general environmental conditions not improve. This penguin is endemic to southern Africa and is considered an indicator species, which, according to Encyclopedia of Life, “can signal a change in the biological condition of a particular ecosystem, and thus may be used as a proxy to diagnose the health of an ecosystem.”

The endemic and endagered African penguin is an indicator species

The Penguin Promises campaign will always focus on awareness as opposed to fundraising. Its slogan, “We don’t want you money honey we want your love”, says it all. Often, when people donate money to a cause they feel momentarily better about themselves and then walk away, not really knowing or caring what happens to the money they donated or the species they supported. To combat this “armchair activism”, Penguin Promises proposes that every person who is privileged to live on our planet looks closely at their relationship with nature, and makes a conscious choice to change at least one aspect of their behavior that will reduce their environmental impact.

Waddle for a Week 2012: In Stanford

A few examples of Penguin Promises are:

  • recycling/reusing/reducing;
  • saving water and electricity;
  • planting an organic vegetable garden;
  • using eco-responsible cleaners; and
  • refusing drinking straws and plastic shopping bags.

And that's why we Waddle for a Week

Eager animal keepers from various animal facilities around the country as well as general members of the public take part in the annual Waddle for a Week, which lasts six days and covers a distance of approximately 120km from Gansbaai to Simonstown.

Old Mutual Finance sponsored Waddle 2014 and are the confirmed sponsors for the Waddles until 2017!

Waddle for a Week 2013: At Arabella Hotel & Spa near Hermanus

Establishments along the Waddle route always kindly sponsor accommodation for the night.

Penguin Promises also benefits from the endorsement of the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAZAA).

Members of the public are equally supportive and have always shown their excitement in each town through which we waddle. We hold high our impossible-to-miss, bright yellow “Hoot for penguins” signs in order to attract maximum attention. In 2014, we counted over 7 000 hoots over the six days of the waddle! The importance of achieving as many hoots as possible is that this reflects “action learning”, meaning that the “hootee” is bound to remember our campaign more so than the motorist who simply drives on by without participating.

Waddle for a Week 2014: Schoolchildren from Kuilsriver eager to learn and support in Gordon's Bay

Over the years many school students have joined to waddle alongside us for short stretches. It is so inspiring to see the youth embrace our mission and demonstrate this by either dressing in black and white, creating art depicting their affection for the African penguin, or raising small meaningful collections of money, which we pay over to SANCCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) to go towards their important rehabilitation work.

Once they understand our mission, each scholar is always eager to commit to a Penguin Promise of their own.

Waddle for a Week 2015: Arriving in Simon's Town 

The African penguin salutes all who have and are yet to join us in this vital campaign!

Want to waddle?

Planning for the annual Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week begins now in order to alert the qualifiers well in advance. This is so that endurance-walking training may begin.

Here are the details for Waddle 2016, should you be interested in sending in your motivation to apply to be on the full-time team.

Date: 10-17 April 2016 (allows for one day either side for travel. Actual Waddle event 11-16 April).

Route: Begin in Gansbaai and end six days later at Boulder’s Beach – easy, flat terrain on tar roads.

Distance walked: Approximately 125km (minimum 10km/day and maximum 30km/day). You have to be be fit enough to comfortably walk 5km per hour.

Cost to participant: All expenses for the week of the Waddle are included. Transport to Cape Town for the participant's own account.

Your commitment: 

  • Train so as to be fit and healthy to complete the distance.
  • Supply a doctor’s clearance letter. 
  • Be bold enough to engage the public en route, to gather Penguin Promises.
  • Arrive informed about the campaign and its objectives.
  • Participate and contribute 100%.
  • Submit your feedback and thoughts post-event.

Your motivation: Tell us why you want to waddle for African penguins, a bit about you and your background, and what you feel you are able to contribute to this call-to-action campaign. What inspires you?

Email: hayley.mclellan@aquarium.co.za and gabby@seaworld.org.za by 18 December 2015 to be considered for the Waddle.

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