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Emperor penguins.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Phylum Information
Superphylum Deuterostomia
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Infra-class Neognathae
Order Information
Order Spheniciformes
Family Information
Family Spheniscidae
Genus Information
Genera Aptenodytes
Population statistics

A number of kinds of flightless seabirds found in the southern hemisphere, penguins are actively swimming predators, feeding on fish and squid. Adelie penguins have been recorded diving to depths of over 2,000 feet.

In addition to the huge colonies found on many islands of the sub-Antarctic, penguins are found in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and continental South America. The most northerly variety is the Galápagos penguin.

The largest type is the Emperor penguin which nests on the Antarctic continent and grows up to four feet tall, but remains of fossil penguins as tall as a man have been found.

Penguins normally have very sleek feathers designed to allow them to swim very fast. King Penguin chicks, however, do not need to swim as their parents fetch all their food for them. What they do need is to keep warm, so their feathers are brown and woolly, not at all like their adult feathers. For this reason, early antarctic explorers wrongly decided that they were a separate species from their parents and christened them "woolly penguins". [1]

Penguins are eaten at sea by leopard seals and killer whales, and on land can fall prey to Antarctic skuas and feral cats. Historically they were commercially processed into oil by enterprises on numerous sub-Antarctic islands.

Penguin mating habits

Emperor Penguins are only faithful to their mate for the length of the breeding season. This is necessary, as it requires the undivided attention of both parents to raise a chick in such a hostile environment. However, once the breeding season is over, as few as 15% remain with the same breeding partner and, at times, this rate of fidelity can even drop as low as 5%.[2]

Roy and Silo, two male homosexual birds in the penguin enclosure at New York's Central Park Zoo, built a nest, incubated an egg, and successfully raised a chick. They exhibited courting behaviour, built a nest together, and ignored all the advances from female penguins. When keepers gave them a fake egg to look after, they behaved like model parents. So, when another breeding pair stopped looking after one of their eggs, the keepers gave it to Roy and Silo who successfully hatched it and raised a chick called Tango. However, the following season Silo left Roy and mated with a female penguin named Scrappy who'd just transferred in from Sea World Zoo in San Diego. [3]