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Action timeline

November 28, 2006 – The Center petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list 12 species of penguins, threatened primarily by the impacts of global warming, under the Endangered Species Act.

June 5, 2007 – The Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Bush administration for failing to respond to the petition.

July 9, 2007 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that 10 of the petitioned-for penguin species may deserve protection: the emperor, southern rockhopper, northern rockhopper, Fiordland crested, erect-crested, macaroni, white-flippered, yellow-eyed, African and Humboldt penguins. The agency began status reviews for these species.

December 3, 2007 – The Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Service for failing to move forward with protections for the 10 species singled out as possibly deserving of listing.

February 27, 2008 – The Center sued the Service to force listing decisions for the 10 penguin species — decisions that were more than two months overdue when our complaint was filed.

September 8, 2008 – A federal judge approved a settlement between the Center and the Service under which the Service was required to complete its overdue finding on whether the penguins should be protected under the Endangered Species Act by December 19.

December 17, 2008 – The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect six species — the African, yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested, Humboldt and erect-crested penguins — as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also proposed listing a portion of the range of the southern rockhopper penguin. Unfortunately, the majestic emperor, northern rockhopper and macaroni penguins were denied the protection they need. The Service concluded that global warming impacts on the emperor were too “uncertain” to warrant listing.

October 6, 2009 – The Center and Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a formal notice of intent to sue Interior over its denial of protections to emperor and rockhopper penguins.

January 4, 2010 – The Center and Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a notice of intent to sue Interior for illegally delaying protection of seven penguin species under the Endangered Species Act.

March 9, 2010 – The Center and Turtle Island Restoration Network sued the Obama administration for illegally delaying protection of the seven penguins.

June 3, 2010 – A federal judge approved the 2008 settlement requiring the federal government to finalize protections for seven penguins under the Endangered Species Act.

July 30, 2010 – The Interior Department announced it would list as threatened the Humboldt penguin of Chile and Peru, as well as four New Zealand birds: the yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested and erect-crested penguins.

September 28, 2010 – The National Marine Fisheries Service announced that the African penguin would be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

February 22, 2011 – The Interior Department announced that the New Zealand-Australia populations of the southern rockhopper penguin would be listed as threatened.

November 28, 2011 – The Center filed a legal petition seeking Endangered Species Act protection specifically for emperor penguins threatened by global warming.

January 21, 2014  In response to our 2011 petition, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the emperor penguin may warrant Endangered Species Act protection based on threats from climate change.

Photo by Michael Van Woert, NOAA