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Wild Penguins
in Perpetuity

The IUCN/SSC Penguin Specialist Group provides scientific advice that informs policy and engages people in effective conservation action.

Who We Are

The Penguin Specialist Group is comprised of some of the world’s leading scientists and conservationists who are actively involved in the conservation of penguins.


Like other Specialist Groups, the PSG is an independent entity serving the broader objectives of IUCN Species Survival Commission. This IUCN SSC group provides a unique opportunity to present a common, unified and respected voice on international and sub-global penguin issues and conservation. The IUCN specialist group has an international standing for penguins. It adds international political credibility and recommendations for countries to take the correct actions to protect penguins. Key aspects where the PSG will be very effective include international issues like traffic of penguins, bycatch on international jurisdictions, or marine protection regimes that might bridge between countries.

Our Goals

  • Identify the need for management actions and/or studies for particular species, critical areas, or threats to penguins;

  • Provide scientific advice on conservation and management issues concerning penguins to interested parties;

  • Coordinate input from penguin experts for the IUCN Red List assessments;

  • Facilitate dissemination of scientific information concerning penguins, including supporting publications and regional and international meetings;

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Our Story

The IUCN Species Survival Commission Penguin Specialists Group started in 2009, and is led by Pablo G. Borboroglu and Dee Boersma. In July 2010, Pablo held a meeting at the IUCN Headquarter in Gland, Switzerland, with Julia Maron-Lefèvre (the Director General of IUCN), Simon Stuart (SSC Chair), Dr. Luc. Hoffmann, Jean Christophe Vie to share and propose the idea.


Later on, Borboroglu and Boersma organized a meeting in UK to discuss the formation with an initial founder group of colleagues who expressed interest in serving as members of the proposed Specialist Group. All were active in international penguin conservation and/or research and represented the global taxonomic and geographical diversity of penguin species. This founder group held a meeting at the International Penguin COngress in Bristol to prepare a submission to the IUCN to establish a Penguin Specialist Group. Apart from Borboroglu and Boersma  (Co-Chairs), the proposal was prepared by the members of the Steering Committee: Dr. Phil Trathan (British Antarctic Survey, U.K.), Dr. Lauren Waller (then at Cape-Nature, South Africa), Dr. Alejandro Simeone (Universidad Andres Bello, Chile), Dr. Phil Seddon (University of Otago, New Zealand), Dr. Andre Chiaradia (Phillip Island Nature Parks), Dr. Susie Ellis (International Rhino Fund and Global Penguin Society), Dr. Barbara Wienecke, Australian Antarctic Division, Australia).  Finally, Dr. Charles Bost (French National Centre Scientific Research) joined the group in 2017, and Tom Schneider (American Association of Zoos and Aquariums Penguin Taxon Advisory Group Chair) was added to the Steering Committee in 2016 to represent zoos and aquariums that house penguins. 


After three years of institutional and political conversations, the proposal to get the group established was approved by IUCN in 2015.


The motivation to establish this specialist group was the iconic nature of penguins and the fact that they suffer under severe conservation problems that need special attention. Penguins are different from other seabirds in so many aspects that only a group of penguin experts can provide the most appropriate and up-to-date advice on issues affecting this avian family. The formation of the Penguin Specialist Group will deliver a combined global effort to the protection of these species and more generally, the endangered marine ecosystem.

The alarming population trends for many penguin species, as well as mounting local, regional, and global challenges, made the formal development of a Penguin Specialist Group (PSG) timely. Input from the PSG enriches the current IUCN Red List process for the taxon. 

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