Penguin standing, looking right


At A Glance

  • Location: Africa Rocks
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • 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. At the San Diego Zoo, guests can see a colony of African penguins, native to the waters and shorelines of southern Africa.

    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. 

    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 Wildlife Alliance Animals & Plants.

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