Emperor Penguin

Emperor Penguin  Aptenodytes forsteri

Type of Animal:

Open ice, pack ice, surrounding seas, coastlines, intertidal areas, open sea, icecaps, icebergs, ice cliffs


Largest penguin species, streamlined body, adults have deep black dorsal feathers (covering head/chin/throat/back/dorsal part of flippers/tail), wings/belly white, pale yellow upper breast, bright yellow ear patches, black upper mandible, lower mandible pink/orange/lilac. Juveniles have white ear patches/chin/throat w/ black bill, chicks have silver-grey down w/ black heads/white masks.

Krill, squid, fish, crustaceans

Status in Wild:

Breeding in aquariums & marine parks, precautionary management of krill fisheries, creation of marine reserves

Colonies range from 5,000-14,000 monogamous pairs

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Colony
Male: 51-88 lbs
Female: 44-75 lbs
Young: 22 lbs

10 weeks 

Life Span:
19-20 years, possibly up to 40 years

Male: 4 ft
Female: 3.7-3.8 ft

Body Length:
Male: 4 ft
Female: 3.7-3.8 ft

Tail Length:
3 in

Main predators of adults are leopard seals & orcas/killer whales. Chicks/juveniles preyed on by giant petrels, skuas, & elephant seals.
Like all penguins, they’re flightless.
Breed in Antarctic winter, making treks of up to 100 miles over ice to breeding areas.
Females lay single egg, which male incubates for just over 2 months while mate goes to sea to feed, eventually both parents take turns hunting at sea & caring for chick.
Only 19% of chicks make it to their 1st year, due to predation & frigid weather.
Breeds in coldest environment of any bird species.
Feeding treks to sea can be as far as 311 miles from breeding colony.
Young/juveniles huddle in middle of colony where it’s warmest.
Chicks hatch in August & stay w/ parents until December. Around late October, parent places youngster in crèche w/ other youngsters. Once December comes, youngsters learn social skills among peers.
Sexually mature at 3 years.
Chicks usually hatch before mom returns from sea so dad feeds crop milk like substance produced from esophagus.
Chicks brooded by spending time balanced between parent’s feet, sheltering in brood pouch.

Fun Fact(s):
2005 movie March of the Penguins studies these penguins closely.
Main characters in 2006 movie Happy Feet were emperor penguins.
Rather rare in captivity due to highly specialized care & temperature requirements.

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