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5 fun facts about penguins


Everyone celebrate — April 25 is World Penguin Day! It’s the day of the tuxedo-wearing, flightless bird we all know and love. Let’s make like penguins and waddle on through some facts about these unique and adorable animals of land and sea!

Want to test your penguin knowledge? Take our quiz!

FACT: There are 17 different penguin species, and they’re all in the southern hemisphere!

Photo by Temari 09 licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

The different species range from the smallest blue or fairy penguin (about 41 centimetres tall and 1 kilogram in weight) to the largest emperor penguin (about 1.1 metres tall and between 27 and 41 kilograms in weight). The smaller penguin species live closer to the equator where it is warm, and eat mostly fish. The larger penguins live closer to Antarctica where their large size can better handle the very cold and windy weather. The larger penguins that live in colder areas eat fish, squid and krill (small shrimp-like creatures).

FACT: There are more macaroni penguins than any other penguin type.

Photo by Elizabeth Oliver licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

The most recent studies show that there are about 18 million macaroni penguins in the world. That's about as many penguins as there are people in the entire country of Chile! Macaroni penguins live to be about 12 years old and their closest penguin cousins are the royal penguin and erect-crested penguin.

FACT: They may not be able to fly, but penguins are excellent swimmers

Photo by Little Sadie licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

Although penguins can't fly, they sure can swim! Their wings act more like strong flippers allowing them to swim very fast. Penguins spend most of their lives in the water looking for food to feed themselves and their families. Most penguins swim to about 20 metres deep to look for food, but some species have been known to go as deep as 30 metres! Most penguins can hold their breath for 2 to 3 minutes under water but the mighty emperor penguin can hold its breath up to 20 minutes under water!

FACT: Penguins are very social animals — they do absolutely everything together!

Photo by Ian Duffy licensed CC BY-NC 2.0

Many species of penguin spend most of their lives with large groups of other penguins. A large group of penguins is called a rookery. They do everything together: eating, swimming, hunting and nesting. In Antarctica, where it's very cold, emperor penguins will huddle together to stay warm in the frigid winds. Penguins have a unique voice or call that they use to find their mates and chicks in large groups of sometimes a thousand penguins or more!

FACT: There’s an NHL hockey team named after them — the Pittsburgh Penguins.

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

The Pittsburgh Penguins got their name in 1967 when there was a contest held to name the team. The Civic Arena where the Pittsburgh Penguins played until 2010 was also known as The Igloo!