Penguins

Meet our Penguins

When you waddle through the world as well-dressed as penguins, you’re bound to have a number of admirers. With an upright posture and primarily a distinguished black-and-white coloration, they’re also one of the easiest birds to distinguish.

Penguins are considered marine animals, and have what’s called a fusiform (a fancy word for “tapered”) shape. Evolution modified their forelimbs into flippers, and their hind-limbs are supported by webbed feet. You can tell the adults from the younger penguins by markings on their heads and faces, which vary by species.

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Facts

Penguin Facts

Quick: “We say Antarctica, you say __________.” If you just thought “penguin,” you’re not alone. To most people, Antarctica and penguins are nearly synonymous.

And that’s true…for many of these snow birds. The fact is that while all penguins make their homes south of the equator, not all favor the icy arctic waters. In fact, several species of penguins prefer the tropical waters of the Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, a country that sits right on the equator, as its name would suggest.

Here are a few other fun facts about penguins:

  • Penguins have a pretty long life. For many species of penguins, that can be as long as 15-20 years, though some individual penguins can live much longer. Like most birds, though, it’s those first few months of life that are the most critical, since that’s when the mortality rate is highest.
  • Penguin parenting is pretty progressive. In most species, both parents take turns incubating the egg. It’s a good thing, too, since between them, they’ll be sitting tight for anywhere from 4 weeks to as long as 66 days (for…can you guess? Yep, the biggest bird of the bunch, the emperor penguins).
  • Fun penguin fact for kids: Did you know emperor penguins have stay-at-home dads? At least while there’s still an egg involved. You see, in the emperor penguin world, the mom emperor penguin will transfer a newly laid egg to the feet of the dad, then leave to feed at sea while the dad does egg duty through the course of the 66 day incubation period. 


Connections

Make a Connection

A few unexpected passengers on our partner airlines, Southwest, have had the good fortune of flying with these finned superstars. That’s because some of our penguins serve as ambassadors to their species, and have been known to make guest appearances across the country, as well as taking the stage on more than one late night talk show.

In fact, penguins even accompanied our CEO to Wall Street for our company’s IPO. You can bet that was a first on the floor of the Stock Exchange!

But the best place to see them in action is in their habitats at SeaWorld, where nine different species of penguins make their home across our three parks.

If you’re in Florida, don’t miss SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™. This epic attraction is the largest and most expansive in SeaWorld history, including a first-of-its-kind family ride created to help our guests connect with penguins in a whole new way.  

Conservation

Conservation

Collectively, our three SeaWorld parks are home to nine species of penguins, all of which have successfully reproduced. In conservation, that’s one of the most critical measures of a program’s success.

In fact, SeaWorld is the only known place outside of Antarctica that emperor penguins have successfully reproduced.

The endangered Humboldt penguins at SeaWorld are part of the species survival program (SSP) of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Our parks continue to play an important role in ensuring the survival of this endangered species.

Q&A

Q&A

Q: Other than Antarctica, where do penguins live?

SW: Penguins are actually found on every continent below the equator, including some of the warmest and coldest places on the planet.

Q: How many different types of penguins are there?

SW: Quite a few, and many of them you can meet here at SeaWorld. Worldwide there are 18 species in all: emperor, king, gentoo, Adélie, chinstrap, little, yellow-eyed, Snares, macaroni, northern and southern rockhopper, Fiordland, erect-crested, Royal, African, Humboldt, Magellanic, and Galápagos. And yes, there really is one called a macaroni penguin.

Q: Are penguins endangered?

SW : It depends on the species, but many are facing growing survival risks. The Galápagos, yellow-eyed, northern rockhopper, African and erect-crested penguins are unfortunately all endangered. Threats include habitat and nesting site loss, entanglement in fishing gear, overfishing of food sources and global climate change.

Q: What do penguins eat?

SW: Penguins dine on a diet of shrimp-like crustaceans called krill, as well as various fishes and squids.

Q: How big do penguins get?

SW: The emperor penguin is the largest of all living penguins, standing at 3.7 feet tall. The smallest of the penguins is a species called the little penguin, standing at just 16 inches tall.

Teacher's Corner

Teacher’s Corner

Whether you’re leading a classroom or home schooling, our highly regarded SeaWorld.org site is an educator’s companion.

Here you’ll find teacher’s guides, posters, books and video sets to help connect kids to these incredible animals. And, you can even download a printer friendly version of our InfoBook on Penguins.

SeaWorld Adventure Camps and other Educational Programs at our Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio parks offer a great opportunity to help kids get up close to penguins and some of the other amazing animals in our care. These immersive, accredited educational programs are a wonderful hands-on way to help make learning fun.