The Milwaukee County Zoo began its involvement with Humboldt penguin conservation in 1994, when the Zoo started a long-term research program to study a breeding colony in Algarrobo, Chile.
This research program continues today and has included the installation of artificial burrows to provide sturdy nests that resist the destruction caused by flooding. In 2009 and 2010, 35 artificial burrows were installed where natural burrows have disappeared. The burrows were then monitored to see if the penguins would use them. In 2010, the first breeding pair with eggs was observed. In 2011, the first successful hatching and fledging (ready to fly) chicks were observed.
The Zoo also contributed funding and staff to support the 2012 Guano Harvest Monitoring Project in Punta San Juan, Peru. This monitoring project aims to mitigate the disturbance created by miners who harvest seabird guano (seabird excrement) for commercial fertilizer. The program included an educational program targeted at the miners and local community about sustainable guano harvesting practices. These efforts will help to ensure successful future nesting penguins.