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Emperor Penguin

Updated on February 24, 2016

Scientific Name: Aptenodytes forsteri

Emperor Penguin Description

The Emperor Penguin is known as the largest species in the world. They have an appearance that you will be easily able to recognize once you learn a couple of things about them. They have a black back with a white front. Around the ears and on the breast area they have colorings of yellow and orange that blend together very nicely.

Emperor Penguin Anatomy

The body of the Emperor Penguin is very nicely put together. They have a long and slender look to them that gives them an appearance that is well received out there. They are about 48 inches tall as an adult and they can weigh up to 85 pounds. Both the males and the females are very similar in size so other means have to be used to tell them from each other.

They have some very unique abilities due to the anatomy of their bodies, beyond what other penguins can offer. They too can survive in the very cold waters out there. Where they are differ though is that they can get air from the pockets under the ice. That way they don’t actually have to come all the way to the surface to find air. That is a huge benefit too because sometimes those sheets of ice go on for a long way before there is a break in them to emerge.

Researchers have also found that the Emperor Penguin is able to control its own metabolism. This is possible by being able to slow it down so that they don’t have to consume as much food at times. They are able to shut down their bodily functions which aren’t absolutely necessary as well. This ability is one that most researchers find to be absolutely fascinating.

Emperor Penguin Videos

Emperor Penguin Evolution

What did the early Emperor Penguin look like and how did they survive? There is plenty of speculation out there when it comes to their evolution process. It is believed that they were segregated from other colonies due to the ice formations. They were also able to change from land and air animals into land and water animals in order to find adequate amounts of food.

Emperor Penguin Behavior

The Emperor Penguin is very social as are other species. They will form very large colonies that they are a part of. There are many hubs and sub groups within their colony which can contain thousands of them. They seem to live in harmony without very much conflict taking place. They will move around in groups too depending on what is going on in their own situation at that time.

For example the mothers with offspring often spend time together and form groups. The older offspring often will form smaller groups as well. There is quite a bit of commotion going on as a colony of Emperor Penguins are very active vocally. They use a variety of sounds to communicate with each other. Researchers often have to isolate the sounds so that they can determine which ones are being used for pairs and for their offspring to communicate with each other.

Emperor Penguin Habitat/Distribution

Antarctica is the place where the Emperor Penguin is found. They are able to survive in this colder area of the world where so many people and other animals aren’t able to. They are able to take what is found in this area including the ice and use it as a tool for their overall survival.

Emperor Penguin Diet/Feeding Habits

There are many different sources of food that the Emperor Penguin uses for their survival. They include krill, various forms of fish, squid, and different crustaceans. They will consume what they can readily find instead of focusing on certain ones. They will eat food from the surface if it is there but if not then they will dive up to 1,700 feet to find it. They can dive rapidly and stay under the water for up to 20 minutes before they go up for air again.

Hunting takes place in groups so that they can find the food that they need. They have a way of circling around them so that it is easily to get what is offered. Hunting as a group also helps to ensure they are less likely to fall victim to the various predators out there. We will talk more about them in just a moment.

Emperor Penguin Reproduction

Mating will take place for the Emperor Penguin in the winder months. They are going to go on a journey of about 70 miles or more to get to the breeding grounds where they will return year after year. They will feed well in the summer months to store up fat as energy that they can use during this process as they won’t be stopping for food often along the way.

They will find a mate and stay with that one for the rest of their life. The only exception is if that mate is no longer alive, then they may search for a new one. This is a fact that has long set some species of penguins apart from other animals. They are able to find their mate too when there are literally thousands of penguins out there at the breeding grounds at the same time.

The males take an active role in preparing for the offspring which is another difference from so many animals out there. The females will lay an egg and they will have to immediately transfer it to the male using their feet. They don’t use nests as the bitter cold makes it impossible. Many of the eggs are ruined in this transfer, especially among the first time parents. Those that are successfully transferred are then in the care of the father for several months until they hatch.

The males will stand patiently in tight circles to offer warmth and security. They will continue to do so when there are days of no sunlight as well. As they are getting to the point where they are completely exhausted and hungry, it is time for the offspring to hatch. Within a couple of days the mothers return with food for them which they have partially digested. The males will then retreat to go get their own food at that time.

The goal is to feed the young well and get them strong. They must make that long journey back to their homeland. The parents will travel with the young, taking time to feed them and to encourage them to continue. Many of the young die in the cold on this journey but those that do make it back often thrive. The parents are extremely good caregivers in many ways.

Emperor Penguin Predators

Both the young and the adults Emperor Penguins have to be careful of many predators out there. On land there are skua that will take the eggs if they see any opportunity to do so. Birds will take young offspring in an instant so they need to stay very close to their parents. Problems in the water occur when Leopard Seals and Orcas find these penguins to be a great source of nutrition as well.

For the most part humans aren’t any type of threat for the Emperor Penguin. Where these animals live is simply too cold for most people to live around there. However, humans do contribute to common problems such as global warming and pollution of the water. Right now this is one species of penguin though that doesn’t seem to be in fear of a future. Generally they can live to be about 20 years of age in the wild.


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  • profile image


    6 years ago

    very informational you help so much

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    duh ha ha ha

  • laurentmikhail profile imageAUTHOR

    Laurent Mikhail 

    8 years ago from Miami, FL

    Thanks for your comments. I fully agree with you

  • Miss Lil' Atlanta profile image

    Miss Lil' Atlanta 

    8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    Wow, another great hub and really informative too. Personally, I think that people don't give wild animal hubs enough credit on Hubpages... I think if hubbers would just take a little time out and read about nature, they’d love these articles just as much!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    so helpful :D

  • profile image


    9 years ago



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