(WILDLIFE/ANIMAL VIDEO) When most people imagine penguins, they imagine the black and white, flightless bird living in the snowy tundra of the Antarctic. The African penguin, however, thrives in the sometimes sweltering climate of Cape Town, South Africa.

Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town, South Africa near Cape Town African Penguins. Photo Credit: Linda Garrison

The Cape Town penguins conduct their lives on Boulders Beach, playing, swimming, and sunbathing with human residents and tourists. Boulders Beach is one of the only places in the world where people and penguins can swim together. These penguins haven’t always lived near Cape Town. The first pair showed up in 1983, and by 1997 the colony had grown from those two penguins to over two thousand birds.

Photo Credit: http://true-wildlife.blogspot.com/2010/12/african-penguin.html

While tourists delighted in the arrival of the penguins, Cape Town residents weren’t so sure. The birds are noisy neighbors, so noisy in fact that they were originally called Jackass penguins, for the donkey-like sound they made. The birds also had a tendency to destroy people’s gardens, leading to Cape Peninsula National Park’s take over of the beach.

The Park has has made boardwalks and information rooms so visitors can learn about the African penguins. They have also put up fences to prevent the birds from entering urban areas, protecting both the penguins and gardens. Thankfully, these fences have made, if not exactly good, better neighbors out of the penguins.

For more information on African Penguins: http://www.simonstown.com/tourism/penguins/penguins.htm

— Samantha Ellis, exclusive to Global Animal