All about Penguins

Penguins might be the funniest birds in the world. They all live in the Southern Hemisphere. Not only in the South Pole but also in New Zealand, Australia, South America and lots of islands.  

They can't fly but they are great swimmers and divers. On land they are cleverer than you think. And of course they look beautiful.  

Out of the air, into the water 

The ancestors of the Penguin could fly. But as time went by, they adapted to life in the water. Their body is shaped like a fish, nice and easy for swimming and diving. Their wings look like oars. With one stroke of their wings, they travel a distance of 3 meters! And their feet are like a propeller, just like the seals. Underneath their scaly feathers there's a thin layer of air to keep the heat. Under their skin, they have a thick layer of fat. This is how they keep warm. The bones of the Penguin are much heavier than those of birds that can fly. That's why they are good divers.  

Living in water 

For the major part of their lives, Penguins stay in the water. It is only when they change feathers or when they are nesting that they are on the mainland. If they want to, they can swim as fast as Dolphins. They dive under water, come up again and dive back in.  


Penguins walk upright. Mostly with a funny waggle-walk, sometimes they really are running. And the Rockhopper penguin jumps with two feet straight ahead. It makes it easy to jump from the rocks. And when there's snow, the penguin slides down on his belly. Emperor penguins often need to walk and slide over the ice for hundreds of kilometers before they reach their nesting grounds. So penguins are not at all the clumsy birds people often hold them for.  

Diving for food

Penguins are not only great swimmers, but also terrific divers. Not for fun; their food often is deep under water ( like fish, shrimp and cuttlefish). Sometimes over a hundred meters deep. Most penguins can easily stay underwater for many minutes. The emperor penguins can even stay underwater for 15 minutes or longer.  

Watch out

The penguin doesn't have many enemies. But he has to watch out for the leopard seal. This big and fast seal often goes hunting specially for penguins. The killer whale is also an enemy. He sometimes knocks over the ice floe penguins are resting on. The eggs and the chicks are in danger too as birds like the lesser sheathbill especially like them.