Updated: Oct 24, 2021

Penguins are seabirds that cannot fly. From the chest up, they might be a variety of hues. The majority of species have white fronts and black backs. On land, penguins can regulate their body temperature by facing the sun with their black back or white front. In the water, this color also helps them blend in. They have a thick covering of blubber on their bodies that aids in keeping them warm.

Penguins can swim at speeds of 2.5 to 5 miles per hour, using their wings as paddles, with some species reaching speeds of 7.5 miles per hour. They "toboggan" by laying on their stomachs and pushing themselves along the ice with their flippers and feet. Penguins either waddle across the snow on their feet or slide across it on their bellies, a maneuver known as "tobogganing," which allows them to conserve energy while moving rather quickly. The majority of penguin species spend several hours each day preening and waterproofing their feathers with oil produced by a gland above their tail feathers. Feathers are necessary for keeping penguins warm and preventing cold water from coming into contact with their skin.

There are 17 different penguin species, each with a different size range. The emperor penguin is the largest, standing 4 feet tall and weighing 65 to 90 pounds. The little penguin, often known as the blue or fairy penguin, is the tiniest, weighing only 2 pounds.

In the wild, penguins can live for 15 to 20 years. From the Antarctic to the Galapagos Islands, they can be found on every continent in the southern hemisphere.

Penguins are carnivores who mostly consume krill, a small shrimp-like creature, and other fish. They can catch fish up to 10 inches long with their sharp, spine-like teeth, which they consume head first.


Human activities is currently posing a threat to penguins. Oil spills, human guano and food exploitation, entanglement in fishing gear, human encroachment, overfishing of food sources, and imported predators are all threats. The Galapagos penguin is the only species in the United States that has been designated as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The animal entertainment industry has harmed penguins. While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are built with visitors' wants and aspirations in mind, not the animals. As a result of being separated from their natural surroundings and social structures, many animals in zoos and aquariums display strange behavior. While some zoos and aquariums aim to save endangered species, the majority of animals in zoos were acquired from the wild or raised in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection.


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