Royal Penguin

Royal Penguin



COMMON NAME: royal penguin
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
ORDER: Sphenisciformes
FAMILY: Spheniscidae
GENUS SPECIES: Eudyptes schlegeli


DESCRIPTION: Royal penguins are the largest of the crested penguins. Yellow, orange, and black crests extend to behind the eye. Crests meet in the middle of the forehead. Their chin can be pale white to gray.
SIZE: 66-76 cm (26-30 in.)
WEIGHT: Up to 5.5 kg (12 lb.)
DIET: krill, squids
INCUBATION: 32-37 days
SEXUAL MATURITY: 7-9 years old
LIFE SPAN: 15-20 years
RANGE: Macquarie, Bishop, and Clerk Islands in the Southern Ocean
HABITAT: Beaches or slopes covered in grasses
POPULATION: GLOBAL about 850,000 breeding pairs; most of population on Macquarie Island
STATUS: IUCN Vulnerable
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


1. Crested penguins (genus Eudyptes) lay two eggs. The second-laid egg and the subsequent chick is usually the larger of the two and usually the survivor. It typically hatches first or at the same time as the chick from the first-laid egg. The first-laid egg is often kicked out of the nest by the adults prior to hatching time.
2. The royal penguin was once considered a subspecies of the macaroni penguin.
3. For more information about penguins, explore the PENGUIN INFOBOOK.


The royal penguin population was heavily exploited for oil from 1870 to 1918. The population is currently stable and recovering from this earlier exploitation.

All 18 penguin species are legally protected from hunting and egg collecting. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 makes it illegal to harm, or in any way interfere with, a penguin or its eggs. Every penguin specimen collected with a permit must be approved by and reported to the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR). Penguins are vulnerable to habitat destruction, overfishing of primary food sources, ecological disasters such as oil spills, pollution such as trash in the ocean, and human encroachment into nesting areas.


BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Eudyptes schlegeli. Downloaded from

Coats, Judith. Penguins: Flightless Birds of the Southern Hemisphere. SeaWorld Education Department, 2001.

Nuzzolo, Debbie. Penguin March. SeaWorld Education Department, 2002.