This Is Why You Should Never Let Go Of A Balloon

So few people know this can happen.

What goes up must come down — and animal lovers are trying to spread this message far and wide so that people will think twice before releasing balloons.

Balloon release
Wikimedia Commons

Cutting down on this kind of trash could save the lives of so many wild birds and sea turtles, even whales and dolphins, who become tangled up in balloon strings or even ingest pieces of the balloons. 

But for some vulnerable wild animals, it's already too late. When Josie Jones was cleaning up trash from a beach in Australia last month, she discovered a heartbreaking scene. 

Penguin who died because of loose balloons
Josie Jones

Tangled up in a knot of four balloon strings were the feet of a wild penguin who wasn't able to free himself before it was too late.

Jones shared the discovery with a local organization, Earthcare St Kilda, which explained on its Facebook page what probably happened: "An entanglement such as this would impair the penguin's swimming ability, resulting in starvation or drowning. Both the ribbon and balloons are to blame for this death," the organization wrote. "These were someone's balloons. Was it worth it?"

Penguin who died because of loose balloons
Josie Jones

While nothing can bring this little penguin back, so many lives can still be saved if people spread the word that there are environmentally friendly alternatives to balloons.

"One of the important steps to protecting wildlife from plastic pollution is to reduce our consumption," Flossy Sperring, research coordinator for Earthcare St Kilda, told The Dodo. "In terms of sustainable celebrations there are so many environmentally friendly alternatives ... paper decorations like lanterns or confetti, candles, native (or non-native) plants/flowers and more ... It's so easy; people just need to be willing to say goodbye to old habits."

You can help animals by spreading the word that balloon releases should be a thing of the past. You can also donate to Earthcare St Kilda