Penguins are very interesting creatures with many quirks. There are between 17 and 20 species (depending on who you ask), and each has its own unique traits.
- Why wings?
You may wonder why, as penguins are flightless, they still have wings. The answer is that they are not actually wings at all, but rather adapted flippers, which help them to glide through the water.
- Cool colonies
Penguins form colonies of thousands. The largest on record was in the South Sandwich Islands where a colony of chinstrap penguins reached over two million individuals. All species of penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, with only the Galapagos penguin ever venturing north of the equator. Despite what you may see in story books, there are no penguins in the North Pole.
3. The biggest and heaviest penguin is the emperor. He is the species of penguin you would have seen in the movie Happy Feet. They can reach 1.2m tall (probably taller than you!) and weigh up to 45kg. The smallest is the little blue penguin, who is just 33cm tall and weighs about 1.5kg. He is also called the fairy penguin.
- Helmet head
The chinstrap penguin is so named because of a black band that runs under his chin, making it look like he is wearing a helmet. The chinstrap lives in Antarctica and is considered the most aggressive species of penguin, so steer clear!
- Daddy, daddy and baby
Penguins are known for forming bonded pairs. When two male penguins, Roy and Silo, formed a bond at a New York zoo, they started taking turns to sit on a rock, hoping it would ‘hatch’. When another penguin pair laid two eggs and couldn’t look after both, the zookeeper substituted Roy and Silo’s rock with a real egg, and they became proud parents to a baby female named Tango.
*Get your copy of the December issue of Animaltalk for the full article.