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King Penguin

Scientific Name: Aptenodytes patagonicus


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. It takes a few hours for a chick’s down to dry out and fluff up. 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.


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.