One of SF’s cutest Valentine’s traditions features the California Academy of Science’s penguin colony. The beloved tradition of presenting heart-shaped valentines to its penguin colony is so adorable you can’t help but get into the Valentines spirit.
The male penguins usually accept the hearts and bring them back to their female counterparts to line their nests, which is just utterly cute if you ask us. The valentines all bear charming messages handwritten by high school interns from the Academy’s Careers in Science program.
You can watch the penguins get their adorable Valentines on February 14 during the penguins’ regular feeding time at 10:30 am in the African Hall. If you can’t make it in person, you can watch from a live stream, (which is on 24/7 in case you’re like us and need a daily dose of penguins).
If you want to show some love to the California Academy of Sciences, you can write a love letter to an animal, biologist, scientist, or diver. Check out some of the adorable love letters written if you need some inspiration.
The Academy’s colony of African penguins is part of a Species Survival Program, which works to cultivate a healthy and genetically diverse animal population to ensure long-term species survival. Academy scientists plan enrichment activities like these “penguin valentines” to encourage breeding behavior and bonding between the animals.
The colony is ever-growing, with two chicks being welcomed in 2022. They were the first chicks born in the colony since 2018, and their arrival was highly anticipated due to the species being classified as an endangered species in 2010. The chicks were named Pogo and Oswald “Ozzie” Cobblepot, appropriately adorable for the fluffy chicks. They were able to join the rest of the colony in March 2023, so you can now see them when you visit the academy.
The California Academy of Sciences is known for its success in breeding African Penguins and their ongoing conservation efforts. You can learn more about the penguins and the husbandry work done by the biologists at the Valentine’s event.
The Academy of Sciences has some of the most advanced research facilities and fascinating exhibits in the world. If you haven’t been to the Academy (or if, like us, it’s been way too long since your last visit), there’s no limit to the amazing experiences you can have. Some popular exhibits include Claude the albino alligator, the Osher Rainforest aflutter with hundreds of free-flying butterflies, and the Morrison Planetarium.
Find the Academy of Sciences at 55 Music Concourse Drive in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
By Jamie Ferrell and Dana Flynn