Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin Facts
Size 20-35 in (51-90 cm)
Speed Up to 22 mph (36 km/h) (in the water)
Weight 9-19 lb (4-8.5 kg)
Lifespan 15-20 years
Food Krill, fishes, prawns
Predators Leopard seals, orcas, sharks
Habitat Antarctic region, Falkland Isles, South Georgia, Southern Ocean
Order Penguins
Family Penguins
Scientific name Pygoscelis papua
Characteristics Orange-colored bill and feet

Gentoos are very shy penguins living in large colonies in the Antarctic region.

Donkey or Penguin?

The gentoo has a weird call which resembles the braying of a donkey. The gentoo uses its call as a warning against egg thieves or to impress female gentoos.

How to Recognize a Gentoo

Gentoos can be easily distinguished from other penguins. They have a bright orange bill and a white stripe above their eyes extending over the top of their heads.

Gentoo Penguin Gentoo Penguin - Photo: fieldwork/Shutterstock

The Third-Largest Penguin

Among 18 penguin species the gentoo is the third-largest. Only the king penguin and the emperor penguin are even taller.

The Speeders Among The Penguins

Gentoos are extremely fast under water and would “outswim” all other penguin species. With more than 20 mph (36 km/h) they are the fastest penguins, but they are also the shyest of them all.

A Nest Made of a Heap of Stones?

Gentoos use stones to build their nests and stack them in a circle. The nests can measure up to 10 in (25 cm) in diameter and be up to 8 in (20 cm) high. Doesn’t sound very cozy. Luckily they also add some feathers and some moss.

Gentoo Penguin Gentoo Penguin - Photo: vladsilver/Shutterstock

Fighting Over Stones

The stones for the nest are heavily guarded and quite frequently there are loud arguments as to who owns which stones – mainly between male gentoos. They like to give beautiful stones to female penguins as presents in order to gain their sympathy.


Gentoos always build their nests on iceless ground, either on the coast or up-country between protecting tufts of grass. Their eggs weigh about 4.5 oz (130 g) and are being incubated by both parents alterrnately for 34-36 days. After hatching the baby birds stay in the nest for about 30 days. After 80-100 days their plumage is dense enough to protect them from the icy water.

Gentoo Penguin Gentoo Penguin - Photo: fieldwork/Shutterstock

Gentoo Penguin Gentoo Penguin - Photo: fieldwork/Shutterstock

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