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Come the new year and most of us will dread the thought of jumping on the scales, but spare a thought for these Adélie penguins who are blissfully unaware that they are being weighed as they hop onto specially built platforms at the Dumont d'Urville base on Pointe Geologie archipelago in the Antarctic.  The penguins, supported by WWF's species adoption scheme are being monitored by research scientists to obtain detailed information about the colony.  Weighing the birds give scientists an indication of the amount of food they have eaten, crucial for determining how the species are adapting to changes in their habitat.  The measurement is taken when the penguins return from sea.  On their way back to the colony, they pass through one of three gateways that incorporate weighing scales.
 
Recent figures show that 11 of the world's 18 penguin species are decreasing in numbers (according to the 2009 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species)
 
Almost all penguins originate from the southern hemisphere - the furthest north is the Galapagos. Many species are found around the Antarctic peninsula, which is one of the three fastest warming places on the planet. Some sea ice cover there has shrunk 40 per cent, and penguin food supplies (such as krill, which depends on the sea ice) have become scarcer.
 
Although Antarctic species are not currently as at risk as the Galapagos and New Zealand yellow-eyed penguins, we're concerned about recent fluctuations in populations there and the links with climate change. Many penguins visit the Antarctic, but only the chinstrap, macaroni, gentoo and ice-dependent Adélie and emperor penguins breed there. Some emperor colonies have halved in number over the past 50 years, and some Adélie populations dropped 65 per cent in 25 years.
 
WWF's adoption scheme provides penguin lovers with an opportunity to help the penguins of Adélie land and help us to protect penguins and the Antarctic,  addressing many of the global threats that the earth faces today, from habitat loss to climate change.   For furtherinformation about WWF's endangered species adoption scheme please visit www.wwf.org.uk/adopt
 
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For further information please contact the WWF-UK press office on 01483 412383 and dial extension 656 for the duty press officer.