Animal Class >> Carnivores


Emperor Penguins are social animals found in Antarctica and are tallest and heaviest of all the penguin species found in the world. They eat crustaceans, small fishes and squid. Their maximum life span is 40 years. Adult's penguin averages 1.3 m (4 ft) in length and weigh between 20 and 45 kg (44 to 99 lb). The head and wings are black, the abdomen white, the back bluish-gray and the bill is purplish-pink. On the sides of the neck there are two golden circular stripes. As in the King Penguin, a male Emperor Penguin has an abdominal fold, the "brood pouch", between its legs and lower abdomen. They have has a thick coat of feathers that insulate the entire body, except legs and the undersides of the wings. The feathers provide a waterproof layer around its body. Their chicks are covered with a thick layer of light gray down which ensures that they retain as much heat as possible. They normally dive to between 150 and 250 m (490 to 820 ft). The longest they can hold their breath when underwater is 15 to 20 minutes. Their swimming speed is 6 to 9 km/h (4 to 6 mph), but they can achieve up to 19 km/h (12 mph) in short bursts. They usually dive to about 50m for their food. In severe weather the penguins huddle together for protection.

Facts about Emperor Penguins

  1. Emperor penguins are the largest of the 17 species, or kinds, of penguins, and they spend their entire lives on the cold Antarctic ice and in its waters. They survive-breeding, raising young, and eating-by relying on a number of clever adaptations.
  2. Emperor penguins spend much of their time in the waters of the Antarctic, but they move on to the ice to breed. They cannot fly so they have to jump up out of the water.
  3. Penguins can jump 6 feet in the air.
  4. Emperors clump together in huge, huddled masses. They take turns moving to the inside of the group, where they're protected from the icy cold temperatures and wind. Once they've had a chance to warm up, they take their turns back on the circle's edges, giving fellow penguins time in the warmer center.
  5. These flightless birds breed in the winter (unlike most birds, which breed in the springtime).
  6. After a courtship of several weeks, a female emperor penguin lays one single egg then leaves! Female emperors take off toward the open sea to feed, traveling up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) across the frozen surface. Where does that leave the eggs? At the feet, literally, of the male emperors.
  7. Each penguin egg's father balances it on his feet and covers it with his brood pouch, a very warm layer of feathered skin designed to keep the egg cozy. There the males stand, for about 65 days, through icy temperatures, cruel winds, and blinding storms. And they eat nothing that whole time.
  8. Finally, after about two months, the females return from the sea, bringing food they regurgitate, or bring up, to feed the now hatched chicks. The males eagerly leave for their own fishing session at sea, and the mothers take over care of the chicks for a while. The youngsters stay sheltered in their mother's brood pouch for two months. If a young chick falls out of that warm spot, it can freeze to death in as little as two minutes.
  9. As the young penguins grow, adults leave them in groups of chicks called crèches while they leave to fish. They return with food they regurgitate for their young.
  10. There is a reason for the timing of emperor penguins' hatching. By December, when the Antarctic weather has warmed somewhat, the ice the penguins occupy begins to break up, bringing open waters closer to the nesting sites. Now the chicks are at the age of independence-old enough to take to the seas and fish for their own food.

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