King Penguin

Aptenodytes patagonius

The second largest penguin, the king penguin spends most of its time at sea, coming ashore only during the breeding season. Like other penguins, the king penguin cannot fly in the air. However, its streamlined body and paddle-like wings enable it to swim underwater faster than many birds can fly.

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A thick layer of body fat and a waterproof coat insulate the penguin from icy temperatures. Penguins are counter-shaded for camouflage; while swimming, the black back blends in with the dark sea below, and the white belly blends in with the sunlight above.

  • Penguins can drink saltwater thanks to glands on their bills that filter out the salt.
  • Mates can find each other and their chick among a colony of thousands by their individual calls.
  • King penguins have to watch out for predators such as leopard seals and killer whales.
  • On land, tobogganing on their bellies is a quicker way to get around than walking.

Please note: Beginning December 6, 2017, Wings of the World will close for renovations. When it reopens in spring 2018, guests will enjoy a new and improved experience and an enhanced opportunity to connect to nature through birds. Penguin Parades will resume in 2019.

During renovation, we’ll refinish the walls and floors, upgrade the ventilation systems and install new lighting. While we’ll maintain habitats for a wide variety of birds from around the world, the signage and interactive elements, designed to engage guests of all ages in learning about birds and how to become better bird neighbors, will be all new. Visit us next spring to see all your favorite birds, from parrots to penguins, in a whole new light! This renovation was made possible in part through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Fact File

where to see themWhere to see them: Wings of the World
heightHeight: Up to 3 ft
weightWeight: 20 to 45 lbs
life expectancyLife Expectancy: 25
habitatHabitat: Ocean and islands
dietDiet: Squid, crustaceans, and fish

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