Whether it’s because of their comical gait, dapper tuxedo-like coloring, or even the males’ legendary parenting skills, the appeal of penguins is undeniable. Guests can see our African penguins—native to the waters and shorelines of southern Africa—at the big, new Dan and Vi McKinney Penguin Habitat at Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks. The spacious Cape Fynbos includes a cobblestone beach, nesting area, and rockwork that mimics the granite boulders found at Boulders Beach in South Africa—along with a 200,000-gallon pool with depths up to 13 feet, and underwater viewing.
Penguins move leisurely on land, where they nest and rest, but they are nimble and swift in the water. Capable of reaching speeds of 15 miles per hour when swimming after prey (schooling fish, like sardines and anchovies), penguins also have staying power—they can remain underwater for more than two minutes!
A penguin’s characteristic black-and-white coloration helps camouflage the bird from ocean predators. When viewed from above, its black back blends into the dark, deeper ocean waters; and from below, its white belly matches the bright, sunlit surface. Be sure to step right up to the underwater viewing area when you visit our penguins—they seem to enjoy interacting with guests through the windows!
Did You Know? African penguins are also sometimes called jackass penguins, because one of their vocalizations sounds like a braying donkey. To learn more about African penguins, visit San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants.