Hey there Defenders! Make sure to be on your best behavior because this Animal of the Week is royalty…it’s the Emperor Penguin! These beautiful birds are actually the heaviest and tallest of all penguin species alive today. Visually they are notable for their white bellies and contrasting black wings, back, and head. Emperor Penguins also have a bit of yellow/gold around their neck and ears.
What Is Unique About Emperor Penguins?
Like all other penguins, the Emperor Penguin is a flightless bird, however they have a few differences from the other penguin species. They are the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter. So around every April, Emperor Penguins will travel miles and miles over the ice to their breeding grounds, with hundreds to thousands of penguins gathered together. Come June, the female lays her egg and then the males watch over them in the breeding grounds while the females go out for food to fill up their bellies!
What Eats A Penguin?
Being the biggest of the penguin species, and feasting on things such as krill, squid, and fish, the Emperor Penguin is a pretty strong hunter. However, penguins are still considered prey to many animals living in the same habitat. Young birds often become prey to larger seabirds like giant petrels, while young and adult penguins can be eaten by killer whales and seals. Penguins often enter the water as a group to increase their chances of survival, but not every penguin is lucky enough to make it back.
Are These Birds Aggressive?
They are actually very vicious hunters, with the ability to work in groups and get their prey through pack-hunting methods. However, generally penguins are not aggressive animals to humans or other non-prey creatures. Some species of penguins can become highly territorial, especially over their breeding grounds and young…but protecting your babies strongly is something many animals can relate to!
How Long Can One Hold Its Breath Underwater?
Because they are birds, penguins have lungs and breathe air just like us. Yet they are still known for swimming through the ocean and their ability to hold their breath fairly long. On average, these mostly aquatic birds will go underwater for about 6 minutes – that’s all they need to get their favorite food as it’s often near the surface of the water. The Emperor Penguin does enjoy those snacks that live a lot deeper so they can actually hold their breath for 20 minutes. Emperor Penguins will actually slow down their heartbeats to stay underwater so long!
Are They Smart?
As a whole, birds are some extremely intelligent animals, and penguins are no exception. The Emperor Penguin is very social in daily life, and they are even intelligent enough to recognize themselves in the mirror. Penguins can learn and be taught, will communicate with each other through a variety of vocal calls, and they can even use tools!
That wraps it up for this Animal of the Week – make sure to keep exploring the Kids’ Zone for more and more animals to learn about!