The number of penguin species has been and still is a matter of debate. The numbers of penguin species listed in the literature vary between 16 and 19 species.

Some sources consider the White-Flippered Penguin a separate species, although today it is generally considered a subspecies of the Little Penguin. Similarly, it is still unclear whether the Royal Penguin is merely a colour morph of the Macaroni penguin. Also possibly eligible to be treated as a separate species is the Northern population of Rockhopper penguins. Although all penguin species are native to the southern hemisphere, they are not, contrary to popular belief, found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact, only a few species of penguin actually live so far south. Three species live in the tropics; one lives as far north as the Galápagos Islands (the Galápagos Penguin) and will occasionally cross the equator while feeding.

Did You Know?
flightless birds
called Spheniscidae!

The largest living species is the Emperor Penguin adults average about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) tall and weigh 35 kg (75 lb) or more. The smallest penguin species is the Little Blue Penguin (also known as the Fairy Penguin), which stands around 40 cm tall (16 in) and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb). Generally larger penguins retain heat better, and thus inhabit colder regions, while smaller penguins are found in temperate or even tropical climates. Some prehistoric species attained enormous sizes, becoming as high as an adult human; see below for more.

Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid, and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. They spend half of their life on land and half in the oceans.

When mothers lose a chick, they sometimes attempt to steal another mother’s chick, usually unsuccessfully as other females in the vicinity assist the defending mother in keeping her chick.

Penguins seem to have no fear of humans, and have approached groups of explorers without hesitation

Did You Know?
Some penguins
mate for life,
while others for
just one season.
They generally
raise a small brood,
and the parents
cooperate in
caring for the
clutch and for the

Cool Fact:
Despite what
and other
sources may
show, the
likelihood of a
meeting between
a penguin and a
polar bear without
human intervention
is vanishingly small.
This is because the
two species
are found on opposite
Polar bears
inhabit the
northern hemisphere,
while penguins
mainly inhabit the southern
This is a misconception
that is fueled by popular
culture such as movies and television.
A prominent example of this
takes place in a holiday
2005 ad campaign by
Coca-Cola featuring the partying
penguins and the polar bears
watching from afar.

This is the sound of a Penguin :