Humboldt Penguin

Humboldt Penguin

Spheniscus humboldti

See them at the Zoo

Quick Facts

Height: 26 inches
Weight: 8-9 pounds
Distribution: The western shores of South America, along the coast of Peru and Chile
Habitat: Rocky desert coasts and open seas
Wild Diet: Fish (sardines, anchoveta, and pilchard), occasionally squid, crustaceans
Zoo Diet: Fish (smelt, capelin, trout, and herring) filled with vitamind supplements

Humboldt penguins have a black back and white underside, with a black band along the chest. Their body is plumper in the middle because of a fat layer (blubber) that protects them from the cold. But do not let the fat fool you—penguins have streamlined bodies to cut through water with little resistance. Like all birds, penguins have feathers, but their feathers are modified to help them "fly" through the water. Their feathers are waterproof and keep out the cold. Strong, stiff flippers help them swim up to 14 km per hour (9 mph). Penguins' back flippers do the steering, and they can turn in tight curves to escape predators.

Status in the Wild

Humboldt penguins face several problems in the wild. The harvesting of guano has reduced the number of places for penguins to nest, and that has reduced the number of Humboldt penguins. Some people collect penguin eggs to eat. And although they are experts when it comes to catching fish, penguins lose out when competing with the fishing industry. Penguins may also become entangled in fishing lines.

Conservation Programs
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Help with the care of Ariel and Valentino Humboldt Penguins through our Share the Care program.

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