Here’s a wild fellow in a tuxedo truly worth celebrating this Friday: the penguin! January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day, and I plan on doing what I can to honor, protect and spread awareness about how we can help these sweet little seabirds.

They need our help. Penguins worldwide—from Antarctica, Argentina, Australia and Chile to New Zealand, South Africa and the Galapagos Islands—are facing some serious threats, including:

  • Rising temperatures due to climate change, which translates to a loss of sea ice. Emperor penguins and adelie penguins of Antarctica are especially vulnerable. According to this article in Stuff, “[These] two species of penguin could not survive without the skirt of sea ice that forms around Antarctica each winter.” To learn more about climate change, check out this Q&A with a penguin scientist.
  • Habitat destruction from humans (construction, oil spills, pesticides and the like)
  • Illegal egg harvesting
  • Industrial fishing

To celebrate this Friday, you can spread the word on Twitter and Facebook (use hashtag #PenguinAwarenessDay), educate the kids in your life about penguins, or even donate to a charity dedicated to saving penguins (here are just a few):

If you’re feeling extra creative, how about…

  • Baking some penguin cupcakes

  • Delivering stuffed penguins to the local children’s hospital
  • Dressing the part in a cute penguin sweater

  • Curling up with a good movie—Happy Feet and March of the Penguins are classics not to be missed. But definitely mark your calendars for February 7—that’s when feel-good movie “Oddball” releases on Amazon and Netflix. It’s based on the true story of how a very special dog saved a population of fairy penguins from extinction by foxes on a small island off the coast of Australia.

However you decide to celebrate, from me to you, happy Penguin Awareness Day!

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