January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day. The day helps raise awareness about the flightless birds whose numbers are dwindling and also aims to bring international focus on the conservation of penguin habitats.
The Falkland Islands are one of the world's great penguin capitals: as many as a million penguins nest in the Falklands every summer, representing five of the world’s seventeen species – King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Magellanic and Macaroni. What’s more, for the Gentoo, the Falklands are home to the largest population on Earth.
Penguins are aquatic birds native to the Southern Hemisphere. Of the known species of penguins, the largest are the emperor penguins, the lead stars of the documentary, March of the Penguins. The smallest known penguin species are the little penguin found in the coastal areas of Australia and New Zealand.
It is thought that the black and white coloring of the penguins is a camouflage which helps them to hide from underwater predators. While penguins are great at diving and swimming, they cannot fly even though they are considered to be part of the bird family. They use their wings as flippers to move quickly underwater.
How to celebrate? Learn more about these majestic birds and their habitat and try to understand how human activity may be affecting them; If your local zoo has penguins, why not take a trip there to spend some time observing them? Watch movies with penguin characters and documentaries about the lives and habitats of penguins.
The Falkland Islands are globally important for their penguin populations. This is recognised internationally through designation of 22 Important Bird Areas, all of which are coastal or island sites containing breeding colonies of these attractive birds.