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All About Penguins

Updated on October 15, 2016
Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie is a kiwi living in New Zealand, enjoys sharing articles of her country. Land of the long white cloud. First country to see a new day.

Yellow-eyed penguin

On the shore of Enderby Island, Auckland Islands.
On the shore of Enderby Island, Auckland Islands.

Penguin Awareness

Penguin Awareness Day is celebrated on January 20th. We could get confused, between Penguin Awareness Day which is observed on January 20th. World Penguin Day that is celebrated on April 25th because both of them sound almost the same to me, why two different days I'm not sure.

January 20th is observed as the National Penguin Awareness Day. A day dedicated to one of the cutest bird species. The purpose of raising awareness about Penguins is because this species is also slowly depleting. Although hunting now is illegal, many make these cute flightless birds food of their excellent aim.

On National Penguin Awareness Day, people get educated about this special species and introduced to some unheard facts about them.

Emperor Penguin

Adults and a juvenile on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica.
Adults and a juvenile on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica.

New Zealand Emperor Penguin (Lost at Sea)

Penguin Awareness Day is the perfect occasion to write about "Happy Feet" a Penguin that made his way to Peka Peka Beach Kapiti, near Wellington New Zealand.

Happy Feet became the focus of the world after it turned up on a beach some 2,500 miles from its home, only the second Emperor penguin known to have shown up in New Zealand.

It underwent endoscopic surgery in June to remove 6.6 pounds of sand from its stomach, survived operations at Wellington Zoo, and subsequently recuperated at the zoo, where a "penguin cam" allowed fans to observe its every move over the Internet.

Penguins normally eat snow to stay hydrated, but veterinarians believe Happy Feet, named after the main character in a popular animated film, became confused and ate sand instead.

Through a public campaign, the zoo has raised the $10,000 needed to cover the costs of housing Happy Feet. It also has raised about $8,000 toward the costs of returning him to the sub-Antarctic ocean south of New Zealand. That trip could cost up to $30,000.

4 September 2011 - News, Happy Feet, the emperor penguin who captured the hearts of New Zealanders and others around the world, has been released back into the Southern Ocean, off NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa.

Happy Feet was released at 10:30 am on 4 September, 49 miles north of Campbell Island, at a depth of 285 meters.

12 September 2011 - Where in the ocean is Happy Feet?

We may never know what happened to emperor penguin Happy Feet as his satellite transmitter has stopped transmitting. Sirtrack, who provided the transmitter, have confirmed that a signal has not been received since 9 September, NZ time. This lack of signal means that the transmitter has not broken the surface of the water since that time.

The transmitter had been working as expected up until its last transmission, so there are two possibilities: either the transmitter has fallen off or a predator has prevented Happy Feet from surfacing.

Emperor penguins are the largest penguin species and can weigh up to 66 pounds. The adults may grow up to a height of 1.1 meters and weight more than 35 kgs.

As a matter of interest - The last sighting of an Emperor penguin in New Zealand took place in 1967.

Happy Feet - the lost Emperor Penguin

Cool Fact

Penguins are kind of amphibians, and their wings, over a period of time has evolved into flippers.

They thrive on a diet mostly comprising of krill, fish, squids, etc.

Yellow Eyed Penguin

Yellow-eyed penguin

The species breeds around the South Island of New Zealand, as well as Stewart, Auckland, and Campbell Islands. Colonies on the Otago Peninsula are a popular tourist venue, where visitors may closely observe penguins from hides, trenches or tunnels.

This is a fairly large penguin, measuring 65-79 cm (26-31 in) long. Weights vary through the year being greatest, 7 to 8 kg (15.5-18 lbs), just before molting and least, 5 to 6 kg (11-13.2 lbs), after molting.

The males are larger than the females. It has a pale yellow head and paler yellow iris with black feather shafts. The chin and throat are brownish-black. There is a band of bright yellow running from its eyes around the back of the head.

The juvenile has a grayer head with no band and their eyes have a gray iris.

The Yellow-eyed Penguin may be long-lived, with some individuals reaching 20 years of age. Males are generally longer lived than females, leading to a sex ratio of 2:1 around the age of 10-12 years. This penguin usually nests in forest or scrub, among Native Flax (Phormium Tenax) and lupin (Lupinus arboreus), on slopes or gullies, or the shore itself, facing the sea. These areas are generally sited in small bays or on headland areas of larger bays.

It is found in New Zealand, on the southeast coast of South Island, Foveaux Strait, and Stewart Island, Auckland, and Campbell Islands.

It expanded its range from the subantarctic islands to the main islands of New Zealand after the extinction of the Waitaha Penguin several hundred years ago.


This species of penguin is endangered, with an estimated population of 4000. It is considered one of the world's rarest penguin species. The main threats include habitat degradation and introduced predators. It may be the most ancient of all living penguins.

In August 2010, the yellow-eyed penguin was granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Yellow Eyed Penguins of New Zealand

Little Blue Penguin

This is very interesting for Penguin awareness day because it is not something you would know unless you go especially looking for the Little Blue Penguin information.

The Little Penguin is the smallest species of penguin. The penguin, which usually grows to an average of 33 cm (13 in) in height and 43 cm (17 in) in length are found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand, with possible records from Chile. Apart from Little Penguins, they have several common names.

In Australia, they are also referred to as Fairy Penguins because of their tiny size.

In New Zealand, they are also called Little Blue Penguins, or just Blue Penguins, owing to their slate-blue plumage. Rough estimates (as new colonies continue to be discovered) of the world population are around 350,000 - 600,000 animals.

The species is not considered endangered, except for the White-Flippered subspecies found only on Banks Peninsula and nearby Motunau Island in New Zealand. Since the 1960s, the mainland population has declined by 60-70%; though there has been a small increase on Motunau Island.

But overall Little Penguin populations have been decreasing as well, with some colonies having been wiped out and other populations continuing to be at risk. The greatest threat to Little Penguin populations has been predation (including nest predation) from cats, dogs, foxes, large reptiles, and possibly ferrets and stoats.

King Penguins and an Gentoo

Interesting facts about Penguins

1. Do you know much about the tallest and the smallest penguins? The tallest penguin reaches the height of four feet and is called Emperor Penguin.The smallest penguin has a height of one foot three inches and is called the Little Blue Penguin.

2. The rarest Penguin is called the Yellow-eyed Penguin. It has the name not only because of its eye color but also because of two yellow stripes on its wings. It originates from New Zealand and there are only 5000 of them in the World.

3. Another amazing fact about it on National Penguin Awareness Day is that it has a filter just below its beak.This filter purifies the salt water from the ocean which they drink.

4. The mother lays the egg and the father keeps it warm for it to hatch. As they live in colder regions, the egg needs extra warmth to hatch. Thus, the father takes up the role.

5. Another interesting fact about Penguins is that they do not always go to land to sleep. If they found danger on the shore, they take small naps in the water.

6. Unlike other birds, penguins have their own sign language to communicate. The communicate only with their voice but also by waving their wing and nodding their heads.

Penguin Awareness - We do care. - Stop and say Hi, so I know you were here. Thanks.

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    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      MelRootsNWrites: I'm glad you commented about the Little Blue Penguin, because many don't realize that such a small penguin actually lives on earth. It is cute, I would love to see a real one someday. Must put it on my bucket list.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      This was very interesting, Elsie! I've always love penguins. They are a unique species. I didn't realize there was a small blue penguin. Learn something new every day!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      PurvisBobbi44: Thanks for stopping-by and reading, pleased you learned a little more about penguins. We in New Zealand where so proud of our "Happy Feet" shame he got lost at sea. Did you read the story at the top of this article?

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      OldRoses: Those little blue penguin are beautiful. I haven't seen them in real life but would love to they are tiny really.

      Thanks for sharing and the vote up.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

      I enjoyed learning more about this precious Penguins. Thanks for the information.

      Have a great weekend,

      Bobbi Purvis

    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 2 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      I love penguins! There are blue ones? How did I not know this? Thanks for a great hub. Voted up and shared.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I missed Penguin awareness day. :(. Maybe next year.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Penguins are so cute. I wasn't aware that there are two different penguin holidays. Thanks for the info on Penguin Awarenss Day. :)

    • profile image

      Scanabella 5 years ago

      Penguins are special! I love those little Puffin Birds too!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Such a sweet lens. Blessed!

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 5 years ago

      Penguins are great. We visited several colonies when we lived in Chile, and they are such fun to watch!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      Love the holiday. Now my newphew (who loves penguins) will have 2 days to celebrate. I'll have to let him know. Thanks for the update.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      6.6 pounds of wonder Happy Feet is happy! I didn't know most of your facts about penguins, I'm amazed that they use sign language...but then they are amazing birds! Happy to help you celebrate Penguin Awareness Day!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Gosh if I had not stopped by today then I may have completely missed out on all the enjoyment of Penguin awareness day. So glad that you didn't allow that to happen :)

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Nice lens! Thumbs up for you

    • domain19 profile image

      domain19 5 years ago

      amazing.... i like this lens...

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Penguin awareness day! Fantastic! I love it! Blessed by a Squid Angel!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 5 years ago from Iowa

      An amazing story about Happy Feet though too bad it wasn't a complete happy ending. Thus is real life though I suppose. Thanks for sharing. Beautifully done and blessed.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      I love all the photos! Well done.