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Kickstarter campaign hopes to aid endangered African penguins

Oregon Zoo joins national association to raise $150,000 for nesting boxes in South Africa and Namibia.

 - The "Invest in the Nest" Kickstarter campaign hopes to raise $150,000 to build artificial nest boxes for threatened African penguins.The Oregon Zoo is joining the Association of Zoos and Aquariums of Silver Springs, Maryland, in a $150,000 Kickstarter campaign to help endangered African penguin populations.

The zoo is part of the association's "Invest in the Nest" crowd-funding plan to help build and place 1,500 artificial nest boxes for African penguins in South Africa and Namibia. For decades, commercial interests have put African penguin populations in peril by gathering nearly all the guano deposits penguins need for nesting. Today, the birds are struggling to raise their young.

The Kickstarter campaign just launched and has 30 days to gather pledges. By Wednesday, fewer than 100 people had pledged about $34,800.

Local people who donate to the campaign can get several rewards, including a behind-the-scenes peek at the Oregon Zoo penguinarium (for pledges between $400 and $750), artwork from the zoo's Humboldt penguin colony, T-shirts, totes and posters.

"The Oregon Zoo has been involved in Humboldt penguin conservation for years," said Zoo Director Don Moore. "But African penguins need our help too, and this campaign is a great way for the community to join us in helping save penguins in the wild."