African Penguin

African Penguin Facts
Size 24-27.5 in (60-70 cm)
Speed Up to 12 mph (20 km/h) (in the water)
Weight 5.5-6.6 lb (2.5-3 kg)
Lifespan 10-15 years
Food Fish, anchovies, sardines, mackerels
Predators Fur seals, seagulls
Habitat South Africa
Order Penguins
Family Penguins
Scientific name Spheniscus demersus
Characteristics The only penguin species in South Africa

The African penguin is one of 18 penguin species. Contrary to many other penguins (e.g. the emperor penguin), it does not live in cold regions, but at the sunny and warm coasts of South Africa.

Who Needs Spectacles?

The African penguin has got pink patches of skin above its eyes, which look like spectacles. This is why the African penguin is called “Brillenpinguin” (penguin with spectacles) in German.

Why Does the African Penguin Have Those Pink Patches of Skin?

Birds cannot sweat, because they do not have perspiratory glands. How then does the African penguin cool down when the South African sun is getting too hot? Of course it can jump into the cool ocean water, but what about the time it spends ashore? The pink areas above its eyes help – the air that touches these featherless, nude patches of skin cools down the blood. An ingenious trick that is used by elephants in a similar manner.

African Penguin African Penguin - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

Why Do African Penguins Have a Spotted Plumage?

The spotted plumage helps the penguins to recognize their buddies. The patterns of the spots are as unique as fingerprints.

African Penguins Swim Long Distances for Food

The African penguin swims about 25 miles (40 km) every day to gather enough food. When it is very hungry, it sometimes even covers distances of 68 miles (110 km).

During the Molt, African Penguins Keep to a Diet

African penguins are molting once a year for a period of about 20 days. During this time they cannot eat and lose almost half of their body weight, because their new feathers are not yet waterproof and thus not suited to go hunting in the water.

African Penguin African Penguin - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

African Penguins and Reproduction

African penguins build nests using their own feces. They place their nests under scrubs and rocks to be protected from the wind and the sun. The female penguin lays two eggs, which are then hatched by both parents. After 40 days, the fledglings come into the world. During the first 30 days, their parents lovingly look after them, keep them warm and feed them. After 60-130 days, the young penguins are fully grown.

African Penguin African Penguin - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

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