African Penguin

(Spheniscuc demersus)

Bird | South Africa

Animal Info

There are 32 penguins in the Zoo’s colony (16 males, 16 females), many of which hatched here at the Zoo. They squabble, are very territorial and live with a lot of drama. Each penguin has its own personality; some are leaders, some followers, some aggressive and some docile. Both parents are involved in taking care of the young and they are excellent parents.

Status in the Wild

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Endangered. The greatest threats facing African penguins are oil spills, leaking tankers and over-fishing. The Zoo has been making solid contributions to populations in conservation care at Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited (AZA) zoos since hatching its first chick in 1999. It has been a consistent forerunner in African penguin breeding in the United States ever since, with more than 100 chicks hatched.


Coastal areas and seas off the southern tip of Africa, including islands.


The African black-footed penguin feeds only at sea, eating crustaceans, fish and squid.

Did you know?

African penguins prefer warmer water between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

These birds are flightless. Their wings, modified flippers, are used for swimming and diving up to 30 feet deep.

The call of an African penguin sounds almost like a donkey braying.

Penguin feathers are stiff and overlap in layers to trap air next to the skin, making their coat both wind and waterproof.

Making sure the seafood you purchase is sustainably sourced helps penguins! Learn more at

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