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Emperor Penguin

Emperor Penguin
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Aptenodytes forsteri

The Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the largest of all penguins. Emperor Penguins eat crustaceans (such as krills), squid, and small fish. They live for around 20 years, some records indicate a maximum of 40. (Note that the King Penguin is a different species, and the Royal Penguin is a subspecies of the Rockhopper Penguin.)


In order to find food, these penguins need to dive 150 - 250 metres into Southern Ocean. The deepest diving on record is 565 metres. The longest they can hold their breath when underwater is 20 minutes. Their swimming speed is 6-8 km per hour.

Physical Characteristics

Like his King Penguin counterpart, a male Emperor Penguin has an abdominal fold, the "brood pouch", between its legs and lower abdomen.

The head and wings are black, the abdomen white, black bluish grey, bill purplish pink. On the sides of the neck, there are two golden circular stripes. The plumage of chicks are grey.

A distinguishing character between male and female is their call.

Reproduction and Breeding

March or April, the penguins start courtship, when the temperature can be as low as -40 degrees Celsius. In May or June, female penguin lays one 450-gram egg and abandons it immediately. The male will incubate the egg in its brood pouch for about 65 days consecutively without food by surviving on his fat reserves. To survive the cold and wind (up to 200 km per hour), the males huddle together. The female return after two months with food in her stomach, which is regurgitated to feed the newly hatched chicks.

After hatching, the chicks huddle in a crèche.


In early and mid-20th century, the penguins were hunted for their fat.

Predators include Leopard Seal, Killer Whale, and sharks.

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