Help save African penguins

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Johannesburg - Do not bath, do not use plastic bags, do not use drinking straws, and try to eat "sustainably-sourced seafood".

These are the suggested changes animal keepers are asking South Africans to make to help save the endangered African penguin.

A group of animal keepers and enthusiasts from around South Africa will be walking 120km next week to raise awareness about the plight of African penguins.

The annual "Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week" is expected to start from Gansbaai in the Western Cape on Monday and reach Simon's Town by next Saturday (15 March).

"The waddlers are calling on all South Africans to take action and to promise to make a change in their daily lives that will effect positive change in the environment", said animal keeper Hayley McLellan from the Two Oceans Aquarium.

"Some suggested promises include promising to no longer use [drinking] straws, to shower rather than bath, to stop using plastic bags, or to eat only sustainably-sourced seafood. These changes can have an immense positive impact on the environment when they are made collectively."

The walk was an initiative by the Animal Keepers' Association of Africa, and not a fund-raising campaign. It was focused on raising awareness about the African penguin.

The endangered African penguin was only found along the Southern African coastline and nowhere else in the world.

These birds faced extinction in the wild as their numbers continued to decline "dramatically".

"Loss of food sources due to over-fishing, climate change, and habitat destruction are just some of the factors taking their toll", said McLellan.

"It is easy to join the movement and contribute towards saving the African penguin."

The waddlers are encouraging people to join them anywhere along the route, and to give their promises at ipromise@penguinpromises.com.

They want as many Capetonians, dressed in black and white, to join them on their walk.

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