All About African Penguins

When you think of penguins, you probably think of little flightless birds sliding on their bellies in arctic and icy environments. However, the African Penguin just might completely change what you think you know about penguins. They are the only species of penguin located in Africa and have distinctive pink glands beneath their eyes that make them very unique among their species.

What You Should Know

The African Penguin is typically found on the coast of South Africa on rocky ocean islands. It has black and white markings and a sharp black beak that allows it to devour the marine organisms that it loves to eat. The African Penguin is a carnivore and loves to eat shoaling fish like anchovies, sardines, mackerel, squid, and crustaceans. Its body shape allows it to glide through the water in search for food. They catch their food by diving under the water for up to 2 minutes at a time and have even been known to hunt up to 100 meters below the ocean surface. They will usually grow to be between 24 inches to 27 inches in height and weigh about 5 to 10 lbs.

These flightless birds love being social and forming bonds with other African Penguins. Sometimes, the bonds that they form with other penguins can last as long as 10 years. You will often see African Penguins helping each other out with grooming and their courtship displays are a true sight to behold. You will hear them trying to attract a mate with some truly odd donkey-like sounds.

What Sound do they make?

Group Characteristics

The African Penguin, like other types of penguins, are animals that love to socialize with one another. You will often see them congregating in groups when you find them in their natural habitat. They will normally start breeding around the age of 4. When a male and female African Penguin decide to pair up, it is a bond that lasts a lifetime. The females will dig and burrow to create a place to lay her eggs. Both parents take responsibility for keeping up with the egg until it hatches about 40 days later. The young penguins will stay with their parents until they are 3 to 5 months old, but interestingly return to their birthplace to moult into their adult plumage. On average, the African Penguin lives between 10 and 15 years.

How Many Are There?

The African Penguin population is estimate to be right around 140,000. They are considered to be a vulnerable animal that is endangered. Some of the main reasons they are at risk of extinction are due to humans eating their eggs and habitat disruption. The predators that African Penguins are always watching out for include sharks, seals, and seagulls. The biggest predatory risk that African Penguins face is before they even hatch. The penguin eggs are very delicate and there are tons of animals looking to eat them. That’s why the mother and father penguin take turns watching over their eggs.

Watch a Video

You can find some great videos of the African Penguin by clicking on any of the following links:

Interesting Facts

African Penguins will moult once a year and always return to their colonies to do so. When they are moulting, they aren’t able to swim or eat during the 20-day period. This causes them to lose about half of their body weight. Penguins actually have more feathers than any other type of bird. These interesting animals are also known as the Jackass bird thanks to their unique donkey-like call. The African Penguin is the only type of penguin that is found in non-freezing conditions, which they cope with by burrowing and being active at the dawn and dusk of each day.