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King Penguin

Updated on February 24, 2016

Scientific Name: Aptenodytes patagonicus

King Penguin Description

Many people are familiar with the King Penguin, as it is one species that lives in warmer areas. It also has a body design that many people find to be interesting. They can be up to three feet tall, and weigh close to 35 pounds. For this particular species the males and the females are almost the same size so you can’t use that as a factor for determining who is who.

King Penguins are very slender due to their height, so they look more graceful than other species of penguins as they are walking around. They are extremely pretty too which is why they are often used on logos, in movies, and in books for children. They have mostly dark blue or dark black coloring on the back side. They do have yellow though on the back of the neck area.

King Penguin Anatomy

The body of the King Penguin doesn’t just look great, it has a purpose for them. They are able to survive due to the structure of it. When you take a closer look at their anatomy, you will find that they feature four layers of feathers. They have them instead of so many layers of blubber like other species of penguins have. The way that their bodies are designed also allows them to have the freedom to move well both on land and in the water.

King Penguin Evolution

No one really knows how these amazing animals evolved. There are quite a few theories though but those have yet to be completely proven. What is strongly believed though is that for some reason they needed to be able to depend on the water instead of the land for their food source. That could be why so many theories include their wings changing from those for flight to movement in the water.

King Penguin Behavior

These are fun animals to watch, and they are very friendly and social with each other in their colonies. The size of these colonies can range from several hundred to several thousand. They will form smaller groups within them though that they belong to. King Penguins seem to thrive on their socialization with each other, and it is quite rare that you will see one that isn’t in the close proximity of many others.

They are able to communicate with each other using a variety of sounds. Listening to a colony of them is very exciting but it can also be overwhelming quickly too due to the volume and the amount of it going on. There is still a great deal of research that needs to be done in order to fully understand what all of their meanings behind those sounds really are. Right now we can identify many of them though but only speculate about others.

King Penguin Habitat/Distribution

This particular species of penguin is found in a different type of habitat than most. They prefer the warmer areas of the waters. Many of the other species out there are found at the coolest points in the world. Due to the fact that these penguins aren’t in the colder areas they don’t need as many layers of blubber. That allows them to move easier in the water and on land.

There are many different places out there where you can see the King Penguin in its natural environment. Those locations include the waters of Australia, around New Zealand, The tip of Georgia, Edward Islands, and Falkland Islands. There can be large numbers of them to see in any of these locations.

Since these penguins don’t need the colder temperatures, they are also often the ones you will spot at a zoo setting. They don’t have to be there for protective measures, but they are common animals that attract many visitors to the zoo. Every effort is make to offer them an environment though that is as similar to a natural one as possible.

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King Penguin Diet/Feeding Habits

Even though they are slimmer than other penguins, this species can still consume quite a bit on a daily basis. They are avid consumers of small fish, krill, squid, and tons of types of crustaceans. They will travel many miles to find food if it isn’t readily offered at the surface of the water. They will also dive up to 700 feet in search of it, quickly moving up to the surface for air at least every 15 minutes before diving again to resume their search of food.

A King Penguin often dedicates many hours of its day to eating. They hunt for food in small groups which helps them to find it, to overpower it, and at the same time to be on the look out for any predators. They are less likely to be attacked if they are in a group than if they are alone and vulnerable.

Information about penguins

King Penguin Reproduction

These particular penguins are ready to mate when they are from 3 to 6 years of age. If they have adequate supplies of food then they will mate at a younger age than when it is scarce. They also breed earlier in the year than other species of penguins. They are doing so from about September to November and other species haven’t even started the process yet.

They are able to find a new mate each year and pair off. This is one of the few types of penguins out there that doesn’t find a mate and stick with them for life. What is odd though is that these healthy and vibrant creatures don’t successfully conceive every year.

When a female does conceive, she has a role to play that continues until the young hatches. King Penguins don’t lay eggs in a nest but carry them on their feet for about two months until the offspring emerge. She isn’t alone in her efforts though as the partner will trade off with her. About every week they will change it back and forth so that one is caring for the egg and one is feeding.

These young King Penguins need their parents help eating for the first couple of months of life. They don’t have the oil on their feathers yet that is necessary for them to survive in the water. So the parents will take turns  coming back with food that they can share with the offspring. Every effort is made to help the young to become strong and a huge part of that is ensuring they have plenty of food to eat.

Many of these young offspring though lose their life to predators within the first year of life. Even with both parents looking after them they are curious and they can be an easy target. If one of the parents gets killed then it is even harder for the other one to care for it adequately.

King Penguin Predators

King Penguins definitely have their share of predators to worry about too. They have a couple on land including birds and the skuas. Both of them will take the young when they can as a meal. They usually won’t attempt to get the adults as they are too heavy for them. The skuas will also take the eggs if they are left, but that is rare with this type of penguin since they don’t have nests.

In the water there is the threat of the dangerous Leopard Seal. This animal is very fast and very sneaky so they can make a meal out of King Penguins quickly. They also have huge appetites so they may consume several of them on any given day for their own survival.


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