EAZA Ex Situ Programme (EEP)

Humboldt penguin

(Spheniscus humboldti)

 Patrik Pastorek
Institution:  Zoologická záhrada Košice

EAZA Member Area

Zoologicka zahrada Kosice

IUCN Red List status

IUCN Red List VU


Programme roles

Direct Conservation icon  Insurance
This role contemplates the possibility to maintain a long-term ex situ population to potentially act as an insurance population. Wild penguins are facing moderate threats mostly related to overfishing and climate change which can lead to a sudden decrease in the wild populations. To act as an insurance population, it is necessary to aim towards a demographically stable population. It is necessary to check the genetic purity of the ex situ population and dress the challenges of chick mortality which needs to be monitored, controlled, and researched. 
Indirect Conservation icon  Education
Penguins are important flagship species for a healthy ocean ecosystem. There is increasing public awareness of the status of penguin species and the need to protect penguins in the wild along with their natural habitat. For Humboldt penguin the impact of the El Niño phenomena on the dynamics of the wild populations is especially concerning.  

Fundraising can be done to support the Sphenisco project (Conservation of the Humboldt-Penguin) as recommended by the EEP or for more threatened species which can lead to conservation initiatives such as artifical nests, beach cleans, to be financially supported.  

 Capacity building
This role contemplated collaboration with colleagues from other regions. This role aims to assist with guano harvesting in range to protect Humboldt penguins' most important breeding site. The help should lie in sharing knowledge in hands-in-experience and sending staff over to the institutions involved (professional projects, ongoing for more than 20 years already). Nevertheless, sending volunteers overseas was postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Programme partners



Programme numbers

In November 2023, the Humboldt penguin EEP had 2543 animals in 107 institutions.

Programme highlights

  • The IUCN Penguin Specialist Group has a factsheet available about Humboldt penguins
  • In Zooquaria 113 (Autumn 2021) there is an article about the penguin RCP.