- Wild: Up to 20 years
- Captivity: 20 to 25 years
- Length: 18 to 24 inches
- Weight: 7 to 11 pounds
- South Africa, in latitudes between 20 and 40 degrees south of the equator
- Coastlines, concentrating on islands and shorelines that are uninhabited and free of predators
- Wild: Small swarm-fish such as anchovies and sardines; and squid.
- Zoo: Smelt, Sardines, and capelin (it’s their favorite).
- Generally, male penguins arrive at the rookery (breeding and nesting ground) first to establish their nesting sites.
- Female penguins arrive several days later to select their mate, usually choosing the same mate from the previous season.
- Male penguins may perform elaborate displays of arching backward, throwing back his wings, and braying like a donkey.
- These displays are lively and noisy in an effort to attract attention from the available female penguins.
- Two to three eggs are laid and both parents participate in incubating the eggs.
- Parents alternate 1 to 3 day shifts until the eggs hatch at 38 to 41 days.
- Usually the first-laid egg is larger than the others and hatches first.
- The penguin body is perfect for life in the water.
- Its streamlined shape causes very little resistance as the penguin moves through the sea.
- Penguins use their wings and webbed feet to propel and steer as they swim.
- Unlike many birds which are lightweight allowing them to fly, penguins are heavy, enabling them to swim and dive for food.
- All penguins are light colored on their chest and dark on their backs. This is an example of "countershading", and serves as camouflage.
- Swimming in the ocean, the penguin’s dark dorsal (back) side blends in with the dark ocean as seen from above.
- The light ventral (under) side blends in with the lighter surface of the ocean as seen from below.
- The coloration helps penguins blend into their environment so predators cannot easily spot them.
- While penguins are so well adapted to life in the water, they don’t spend all their time in the sea.
- Penguins come ashore to nest, lay eggs, and molt.
- Penguins molt or shed their feathers periodically throughout the year. New feathers are regenerated and replace the old.
- While at sea, penguins typically form small groups. However, they often gather in groups of thousands when they are on land.
- IUCN: Endangered
- CITES: Appendix II
- In the early 1900s, guano (excrement of sea birds) was harvested from the breeding locations.
- Removal of the guano led to a dramatic reduction in nesting sites, which then resulted in a significant drop in population.
- Egg collection, commercial fishing in feeding areas and oil spills have also contributed to the vulnerability of this species.
- The South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds has rescued many penguin species from oil spills and have rehabilitated them for return to the wild.
- Also, known breeding islands have been made into nature reserves or national parks. Fences have been constructed to prevent predatory attacks on eggs and young.
- However, the black-footed penguin is still considered threatened, with approximately 180,000 individuals left in the wild.
Note: Black-footed penguins are also called "jackass penguins" because of the similarity of the noises they make to those of donkeys.