6 shocking things you never knew about penguins

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Penguin Awareness Day is coming up on January 20th, and i has you covered with some fascinating penguin trivia.

Penguin Awareness Day

From one-foot-tall blue penguins, the world’s smallest species, to gentoo penguins, who can reach speeds of 22 miles an hour in the water, these black and white avians are as interesting as they are adorable. 

Here are the fascinating things you never knew about penguins. 

There are at least 17 species of penguins.

17 species of penguins.
Penguins live everywhere from Africa to Australia. 

Scientists estimate there are between 17 and 19 species of penguins. You’ll find these flightless birds everywhere from Africa to Australia.

Crested penguins, such as the rockhopper and macaroni species — which are characterized by the yellow or orange tufts that extend from their heads — live in the sub-Antarctic region and Antarctic Peninsula. The temperate, less-feathery Magellanic and Humboldt species are native to South America. 

But only one lives above the southern


A Galápagos penguin lives above the southern hemisphere.
A Galápagos penguin

Since the Galápagos Islands straddle the equator, some penguins on the archipelago live further north than any other species in the world.

The smallest type of penguin is only around 10 inches tall.

A group of blue penguins, or a "waddle," in Australia.
A group of blue penguins, or a “waddle,” in Australia. 

Growing only to a height of 10 to 12 inches, blue penguins are also known as little penguins. They’re native to Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. 

The largest, however, can grow to be over four feet!

Emperor penguins.
Emperor penguins.

Emperor penguins are the largest species of penguin. Native to Antarctica, they’re character by their regal stature. They can grow upwards of 50 inches tall.

Penguins’ black and white coloring is the perfect camouflage for swimming in the ocean.

The black and white coloring is known as countershading.
The black and white coloring is known as countershading.

Known as countershading, penguins’ black and white coloring protects the birds from predators such as leopard seals and sharks. As seen from below, their white undersides are hard to distinguish from the brightness of the ocean’s surface.

Penguins tend to be monogamous.

A macaroni penguin couple.

The majority of penguin species are monogamous. During mating season, one male penguin will pair off with one female penguin — but it’s the female birds who compete for a mate. 

There are same-sex penguin couples.

A pair of chinstrap penguins.
A pair of chinstrap penguins. 

Along with bears and flamingos, penguins are among the 1,500 animal species that practice same-sex coupling

At Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent, England, two male Humboldt penguins named Jumbs and Kermit raised a chick that the baby’s father had refused to incubate. In New York City, Roy and Silo, a pair of chinstrap penguins at Central Park Zoo, incubated a fertile egg and reared the chick when she hatched. 

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