Interesting Facts About The African Penguin

Amelia B

Today we will tell you interesting facts about the African penguin. The African penguin is a small bird belonging to the family of Spheniscidae.

Nature conservation status

The number of African penguins decreased dramatically in the early 20th century due to human development of nesting biotopes, oil pollution of coastal waters, and several other reasons also related to human activities.

Thus, if by the beginning of the 21st century the number of this species was estimated at 4 million, by the end of the 20th century only 10% remained. Thus, the number of African penguins has fallen by dozens of times, and now, according to various estimates, ranges from 50,000 to 17,000 individuals.

At present, this penguin is listed in the Red List of South Africa and the International Red List in the group of endangered species (IUCN).

African penguin and man

All of the reasons behind this sharp decline in the number of African penguins are related to human activities. These include unlimited egg collection (prohibited only in 1969), the oil spill off the coast of South Africa, overfishing of small fish that feed the penguins, and human development of the nesting biotopes of these birds.

At present, the African penguin is under strict protection, and there are National Park or simply protected areas in its nesting sites. Tourist visits to these places, if allowed, are subject to strict rules. Visitors walk on specially laid wooden bridges raised above the ground, it is strictly prohibited to approach, touch, and feed birds.

Under this regime, penguins react completely calmly to the presence of people. Also, for penguins nesting on the sandy shore, there are special nesting houses. Now there is hope that the African penguin can be saved from complete extinction.

At present, the African penguin is under strict protection, in its nesting places created National Park or just protected areas. Tourist visits to these places, if allowed, are subject to strict rules. Visitors walk on specially laid wooden bridges raised above the ground, it is strictly forbidden to approach, touch, and feed birds. Under this regime, penguins react completely calmly to the presence of people. Also, for penguins nesting on the sandy shore, there are special nesting houses. Now there is hope that the African penguin can be saved from complete extinction.

Distribution and habitat

The African penguin nests on the southern and southwestern coast of Africa, washed by the cold Bengal current. For nesting colonies, it chooses rocky areas of the coast, but can also nest on the sandy shore. In national parks, people put up special shelter houses for them.

Appearance and coloring

The coloring of the African penguin is typical for all penguins – black back, white chest, and belly. It got its name for a peculiar pattern on his head. On his chest up to his paws is a narrow black stripe in the form of a horseshoe. The beak and the legs are black. The height of the African penguin reaches 65-70 cm, body weight up to 4 kg. Females are slightly smaller than males.

Lifestyle and social behavior

The African penguins spend most of the year at sea, but by the beginning of the breeding season come to the islands or parts of the coast of South Africa. However, during migration, they do not sail far from the coast, so they are classified as sedentary species. Like all penguins, the water feels easy and free.

They can reach speeds up to 20 km / h, dive to a depth of 100 m, hold their breath for 2-3 minutes. During the hunting can swim 70-120 km. Special organs on the head (pink “eyebrows” above the eyes) help these penguins to maintain the necessary body temperature.

The higher the bird’s body temperature, the more blood is directed to these organs. And thanks to their thin skin, the blood in them is quickly cooled by the surrounding air. During molting, penguins do not immerse themselves in water and lose the ability to feed. They spend about 20 days on land without eating. African penguins have many enemies, both in the water and onshore.

The main enemy, of course, is man, and in both environments of the penguins (catching birds, collecting eggs, pollution, etc.). In the water, sharks are hunted for penguins, and less often – seals. With the latter, the African penguins are also competing on land for places of rookeries and nesting colonies, and in the water – for food. For chicks and eggs on land, the danger is posed by large gulls and, in some places, feral cats.

Nutrition and feed behavior

They eat African penguins with small flocks of fish (fry herring, anchovies, sardines); they eat about 500 g of fish per day. Human overfishing off the coast of Africa is one of the reasons for the decline in this species of penguins.


The voice of the African penguin is loud, sharp, similar to the cry of a donkey, for which he is sometimes called a donkey penguin (in English it is called a donkey).

Reproduction and parenting behavior

The African penguin’s breeding season is not pronounced and varies depending on the place. Thus, in the northwest of the range, the peak breeding season is November-January, in the southwest – May-July, in the east – April-June.

African penguins are monogamous, 80-90% of pairs stay together for the next nesting season, and each pair returns to the same colony and the same nest. It is known cases when permanent pairs were kept for 10 years.

African penguins are nesting in the colonies. The nest is set in a hole or crevice in the rock and laid out with pebbles, twigs, and pieces of guano, which penguins collect near the nest. By the way, the guano helps to keep the necessary temperature in the nest. The clutch has 2 eggs 3-4 times larger than the chicken. Both parents sit alternately for 40 days. Change of partners in the nest occurs on average after 2.5 days.

Hatching chicks are first covered with brownish-gray down, and later – with a bluish tint. Feeding of chicks lasts about 80 days. For the first 15 days after hatching, one of the parents is constantly near the chicks, heating them until they are thermoregulated and protecting them from predators.

Protection of the chicks by one of the parents lasts about a month after which both parents go to feed the chicks and the young ones stay in the collective “kindergarten”. At the age of 60-130 days, they leave the colony and go to the sea, where they spend 12-22 months, after which they return to their native colony and cast into adult plumage. Usually, African penguins survive no more than 40% of their chicks.

Half-mature females become at the age of 4-5 years.


The lifespan of African penguins in the wild is 10-12 years.

Interesting Facts About African Penguins

Photo by Magda Ehlers on pexelsPhoto by Magda Ehlers on pexels

A fascinating fact about the African penguin is that they have bare skin above their eyes, and this helps them deal with the hot temperatures of their native South Africa. As the temperatures rise, more blood flows to the bare patches, making them pinker and drier. The increased blood flow helps them cope with the hotter temperature. The bare patches also help them avoid the sun’s harsh rays. The bare patches are not only attractive to tourists but are essential to their survival.

The African penguin is one of the world’s largest penguins and measures around 60 to 68 centimeters (24 inches). Their weight is 3.7 to 4.4 kilograms. They are slightly larger than their counterparts, and males are larger than females. The males are a little bigger and have a black chin, a white back, and a white breast. The juvenile penguins have gray and white feathers. Their juveniles have brown-gray feathers.

The African penguin breeds in southern Africa, where they live in colonies that are more densely populated than in the United States. They can be found on several continents, including Australia and New Zealand. Their population numbers are declining worldwide, and fewer breeding pairs are being observed. This is the reason why the population of African penguins has decreased in recent years. The influx of humans has resulted in the decline of their population.

Due to habitat destruction and other threats, the African penguin may have to travel a long way to find food. Despite this, it is able to dive in search of food, but it only does so when it has to. As a result, the African penguin is able to consume a variety of food items, including squid, crustaceans, and small fish. The species is very vulnerable to humans, and the species is at risk of extinction.

The African penguin is a medium-sized species of penguin. This species is the only penguin to live on the continent, and it is the only one to be found in Africa. The species is closely related to the South American penguin and is usually 60-70 cm long. Its unique spots make it stand out from other penguin species, and its unique call will be a great draw to wildlife lovers.

The African penguin has a distinctive appearance. Its black back and white breast are outlined with a black band. In the 1800s, the African penguin population was estimated at over four million. They now live only in Namibia and South Africa. They live on the coast of Africa and have an abundance of sardines and krill. They are closely related to the South American penguin and share similar geographical origins.

The African penguin’s scientific name, Spheniscus demersus, is the scientific name for the species. The penguin is found only in southern Africa. The African penguin’s streamlined body and stiffened wings allow it to live in a marine environment. An adult African pelagic penguin weighs about two kilograms and is 60-70 cm tall. These birds are a very common sight and have many interesting facts about them.

Apart from being beautiful and adorable, African penguins are also highly vulnerable to various predators. They are endangered, and the only way to protect them is to protect their habitat. They live in the water and are dependent on the ocean for food. This means that African penguins are extremely sensitive to the temperature of the sea and their eggs. They can survive in the oceans up to five meters of water and are often threatened by leopards and wolves.

African penguins weigh between 2.2 and 3.5 kilograms and grow to 60 cm long. They are easily recognizable by their black and white plumage. Their distinctive pink glands are located on their chests, and they are used to regulate temperature. In addition, they are highly adaptable to cold and hot conditions and can swim up to 400 feet deep. If you see one in the wild, don’t miss your chance to get close and learn more about this unique species.

The African penguin is one of the most charismatic megafaunas in the world. This bird is a member of the avian family, and its unique black spots make it easy to recognize. In addition to being very charismatic, African penguins are able to see ultraviolet light. They also have a short tail, and a black bill. And they are nocturnal, which makes them more vulnerable to predators than other penguins.