It’s Penguin Awareness Day!

By Midge Raymond,

January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day, and it’s more important than ever that we celebrate (and work to protect) these amazing animals.

If you’ve read My Last Continent, you’ve met the Adélie, gentoo, chinstrap, emperor, and Magellanic penguins. If you’ve read The Tourist Trail, you got to know Magellanic penguins very well. Last November, John and I were delighted to meet a new species: the Tawaki, or Fiordland-crested penguin. (Tawaki is the Māori name, meaning crested; these birds are found only on the South Island of New Zealand.)

The amazing Tawaki live in the rainforest, nesting under tree roots and bushes. They hike from the ocean across sandy beaches, over sharp rocks, and up steep banks to get to their nests. Sadly, there are only about 3,000 of these incredible penguins left on earth.

The Tawaki are endangered due to several factors, including predators on the island (non-native species such as stoats, possums, rats, and feral cats), climate change, and human disturbance (from tourists to the fishing industry). Tawaki are very shy, and it’s rare to see them — and when you do, you have to be very careful to keep your distance; if they come back to shore to feed their chicks and a human is near their path to the nest, they will get frightened and return to the ocean, leaving their chick to go hungry.

How can you help penguins like the Tawaki stay with us forever?

  • Consider giving up seafood; even cutting back will help. You’ll save more fish for the birds, and you’ll help insure that penguins and other creatures don’t get killed by fishing nets and longlines.
  • Be a respectful birdwatcher. Visit penguins with guides who know how to keep a safe distance, or learn about their habitat so that you can be sure to stay out of harm’s way.
  • Do all that you can to combat climate change (see the Climate Reality Project and Cowspiracy for some good tips).
  • Support conservation efforts like the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, which monitors penguins and works on the ground to ensure protections for them.

And keep learning! The more you know of these majestic creatures, the more inspired you’ll be to help save them. Join me in Patagonia in October to meet Magellanic penguins up close and personal at the largest colony in the world. This journey will be a small group of travelers who will meet with local researchers to learn more about their work with this colony, and with any luck, we’ll get to meet Turbo the Penguin as well (the inspiration for the Admiral Byrd character in My Last Continent). Learn more here.

Happy Penguin Awareness Day! (And thanks to John Yunker for these wonderful photographs.)

Vegan dining in Fremantle, Perth, Western Australia

By Midge Raymond,

While wandering around the lovely Fremantle neighborhood just outside of Perth, we were thrilled to come across Chic Pea Vegan Cafe, which is located in the must-see Fremantle Markets.


This tiny little place has limited seating and a short menu, but everything is fresh and made to order.

It was a perfect day to sit outside, and we enjoyed the message on the sidewalk table just in front of the cafe.

The chick-pea wrap was delicious, a big healthy salad served inside a huge toasted flatbread.

The pasty was equally delicious, served hot and bursting with Indian-inspired spices.

While several of its main attractions are prison-related, Fremantle is a great place to shop and a beautiful coastal region visit — and especially to eat (it’s also home to this vegan ice cream shop).

  Category: On travel, Vegan
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Vegan dining in Sydney: The Green Lion Pub

By Midge Raymond,

Sydney is a fantastic place to enjoy vegan food, and among its treasures is The Green Lion pub, located in the Rozelle neighborhood (about an hour’s walk or 20-minute bus ride from Sydney’s central business district).

You can order food from the bar downstairs, but the dining room is upstairs, where the remnants of the former Red Lion Hotel can be seen behind the bar.

All the beer and wine served at the bar is vegan.

And the menu is mostly pub food in all its glory, from vegan burgers and dogs to pizza. The “chicken” burger was fantastic, as were the fries it comes with.

Slightly healhtlier but no less delicious was the “chicken” caesar salad, with homemade creamy dressing and crispy vegan chicken.

The Green Lion also has delicious-looking desserts, which (alas) we didn’t save room for. But the lovely atmosphere nearly tempted us to stay until dinner to eat again.

The Green Lion is an absolute must when you visit Sydney. In the meantime, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

The Siskiyou Prize closes on December 31

By Midge Raymond,

If you’re planning to submit to our fourth annual Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, the window is closing fast … submissions close on December 31, 2017.

Our 2017 judge is New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Balcombe. Jonathan’s most recent book is What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education. Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Learn more at

The 2017 prize is open to unpublished manuscripts and books published within the last five years. The winner will receive $1,000 and a four-week residency at PLAYAAll Siskiyou Prize submissions will be considered for publication from Ashland Creek Press. Visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details and to submit.

The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2017.

Please feel free to share this announcement with fellow writers! We look forward to reading your work.

New environmental literature refers to literary works that focus on the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife. The prize seeks work that redefines our notions of environmentalism and sustainability, particularly when it comes to animal protection. The award isn’t for books about hunting, fishing, or eating animals — unless they are analogous to a good anti-war novel being all about war. Under these basic guidelines, however, the prize will be open to a wide range of fiction and nonfiction with environmental and animal themes.

For more information, visit the Siskiyou Prize website, and if you have any questions that aren’t covered in the guidelines or FAQ, feel free to contact us.


ACP is headed to New Zealand and Australia

By John Yunker,

We’re excited to once again be headed Down Under to meet with authors and readers.

We have two events planned that all are welcome to attend:


Christchurch, New Zealand

Writing about Animals: Literature’s evolving relationship with the animal kingdom

November 10th, 3 to 5pm

At the University of Canterbury

New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies

Engineering Core Lecture Theatre, Building E12


Perth, Australia

Sunday Session

November 26, 4 to 5:30 pm

At the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre


If you have any questions or would like to meet us along the way, please contact us.