Black Footed Penguin

The Facts

  • Genus/ Species: Spheniscus demersus
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Location: Africa

Black Footed Penguin
Black Footed Penguin

The Scoop

The Braying Penguin

The black footed penguin is found along the African shoreline that is washed by a cold, nutrient rich current. It has a call similar to the bray of a donkey. The black footed penguin breeds on rocky offshore islands.  These medium sized penguins have black faces, backs, beaks, wings and feet. They are excellent swimmers. They have several adaptations which help them survive in cool temperatures. For example, they have a thick layer of fat under their skin called blubber, and their densely packed feathers prevent heat loss. They also waterproof their feathers with oily secretions.

Black footed penguins are about 2 feet tall. However they only weigh as much as a new born baby- between 5 and ten pounds.  They love small fish like anchovies as well as shell fish. When a group is hunting, they will sometimes swim up to 30 miles in search of food.

Overfishing of their prey, oil spills, and guanaco are just some of the reasons why these black footed penguins are endangered. Guanaco is penguin poop and a major source of fertilizer in some places. Conservation groups have become very effective in rescuing penguins whose feathers have been soaked by oil spills, and returning them safely to the wild.


Did You Know? 

  • Black footed penguins are dedicated parents, who take turns in caring for their eggs.
  • Each individual penguin has a black stripe with black spots on their chest. These spots are just like fingerprints with no two patterns being the same.
  • Black footed penguins have boat-shaped bodies, round in the middle and pointed at the end, that help them to glide through water.
  • These birds’ flipper-like wings propel them as they swim and their short legs and webbed feet act like rudders


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