Animal stories : penguins

We’ve seen ads of refrigerators using penguins saying “I’m the coolest one” and yes, Adelie and Emperor penguins can stay alive in colder weather than any other animal on earth. For them blizzard winds of 120 miles per hour and temperatures up to 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) below zero are uncomfortable, but not lethal. However, penguins don’t always live in cold places. The Galapagos penguin lives right on the Equator, where it can get hot. Other penguins live in places where it is warm at least part of the year. And even though penguins cannot fly, many of them still migrate by sea with the change of seasons.

Great swimmers

Penguins normally swim at speeds of 15 miles per hour. This is four times faster than the fastest human swimmer; it is about as fast as the bottlenose dolphins that many people have seen streaking around pools at oceanariums.

Using speed and agility, penguins can swim or dive to overtake their prey. Emperor penguins have been known to dive as deep as 900 feet to find large squid.

Favourite foods

Different penguin species prefer different kinds of food. The Adelie like krill, for example, and blackfooted penguins like fish. If their favourite food is not available, however, penguins will usually eat whatever they have an opportunity to catch. An Emperor penguin may eat 30 pounds of food at one time.

Baby penguins

Most penguins build nests like other birds and usually lay two eggs a year. Emperor and King penguins, however, carry their eggs around on their feet. When the eggs hatch, the mothers and fathers take turns either hunting or carrying the baby penguins around on their toes. When it gets cold, both eggs and chicks can be covered with a flap of skin that keeps them warm even if the temperature drops to 80 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).

Their homes

There have never been penguins at the North Pole. All penguins live in the southern half of the earth. They are found in the South Pole, New Zealand, southern Australia, South Africa, and along the coast of South America. Some Antarctic-dwelling species swim thousands of miles to reach warmer waters in winter, but Adelies and Emperors live in very cold areas all year long.

Scientists estimate there may be 100 million penguins alive on the earth. Most of them live in remote areas, and no one hunts or traps them: all are totally protected by law. The only serious concern for penguins is their ocean habitat. Some species are more frequently competing with humans for the fish in the ocean, and ocean pollution can cause problems even in remote areas.