Gentoo Penguin

Scientific Name: Pygoscelis papua

Favorite Bird Exhibit

Description

Gentoo penguins are the fastest swimmers of all 17 species of penguins. Capable of reaching speeds of 20 mph and diving as deep as 300 feet in the water, these swift swimmers weigh a moderate 13-16 pounds.

Like all penguins, gentoo penguins are primarily black and white. Their white bellies blend in with snow and reflecting sunlight making it difficult for predators to see them when swimming. You can tell a gentoo penguin from other penguins by looking for a wide white stripe across its head (kind of like ear muffs).

Gentoos nest on rocky shores. They carry and pile stones, pebbles, grass, sticks and anything they can find to make a circle. Two eggs are laid inside the circle, and if there’s lots of food, both chicks will survive. After about 80 to 100 days the chicks grow adult feathers, and they go out on their own.

Range

Gentoo penguins live on many of the islands of the Antarctic region, but their main colony is on the Falkland Islands.

Status in the Wild

As of 2000, gentoo penguins were listed as near threatened on the IUCN red list. Their major threats are habitat degradation and loss due to oil spills, water pollution and overharvesting of ocean fish.

Riverbanks Facts

Riverbanks Zoo has a total of nine gentoo penguins on exhibit; five females and four males. The gentoos at Riverbanks came from Seaworld Orlando by refrigerated truck.

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