King Penguin

Scientific Name: Aptenodytes patagonicus

Description

Adult king penguins have yellow-orange comma- or teardrop-shaped markings on each side of the head and on the lower part of the beak, and like all penguins, kings have a black back and white chest.

King penguins are the second largest penguin species, growing to a height of 3-feet tall and weighing between 24-35 pounds. They feed on krill, fish and squid.

Unlike most other penguins, the king does not build a nest; instead, the parent incubates the egg on its feet. The female lays just one egg, cradling it on her feet under a fold of fat. Both parents alternate brooding duty during the egg’s incubation period, which is about 46-54 days. Chicks are almost completely bare at hatching, but they quickly develop a covering of dense gray-brown down. They remain with their parents for around 30-40 days. Later, both depart to search for food, leaving the chick in a communal flock known as a créche.

Range

King penguins inhabit rocky, snowy and icy areas of sub-Antarctic islands, including the Falklands.

Status in the Wild

There are thought to be 800,000-1,000,000 breeding pairs of king penguins. They are considered to be of special conservation concern, and were particularly persecuted during the 1960s when they were hunted for their blubber, oil and feathers.

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