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Penguin (Emperor)

Aptenodytes forsteri
Penguin (Emperor)

Range

They are found on Antarctica.

Habitat

They live along the coasts of Antarctica and in the water.

Body Traits

The Emperor is the largest penguin at 4 ft tall. They can weigh up to 100 pounds. They have flipper-like wings for swimming. Males and females look alike, with a bluish grey back and head, large white and yellow ear patches and a white belly and pale yellow breast.

Habits

They can dive to more than 700 feet and stay under water for 20 minutes! Male Emperors can’t eat while they protect the egg for 9 weeks (incubation period) and can lose 1/3 of all their weight during that time. The males all huddle together to stay warm. After the female comes back to take over feeding the hatched chick, the male then travels up to 60 miles to find food. They are hunted by leopard seals and killer whales.

Diet

They eat fish and squid.

Reproduction

They breed during the dark Antarctic winter, going to “rookeries” in April and May. They don’t build nests. The female lays one egg and the male puts the egg on top of his feet and covers it with a warm fold of skin called the “brood patch.” The female then leaves to travel over the ice to open sea to feed. The male stays to hatch (incubate) the egg. About 2 months later, the female comes back to feed and raise the new chick.

The reason the female leaves right after laying the egg (leaving it with the male for protection) is that she has used so much energy growing this large egg that she has to feed after laying to regain her weight (which take several weeks). She also must gain enough weight that when she returns she can survive the cold climate of Antarctica throughout the time she is raising the chick. She must also feed the chick on the food in her stomach which she spits up (regurgitates) for it.

This is so vital because penguins, – being birds – do not have milk to feed their young the way mammals do and the rookeries are not near enough open water for her to daily feed or bring back food for her chick.

Penguin (Emperor)

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vetebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Sphenisciformes
Family: Spheniscidae
Genus: Aptenodytes
Species: A. forsteri

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