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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Gentoo Penguin Facts

Discover gentoo penguin facts about this species of penguins found in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands

The gentoo penguin is a penguin species. The gentoo penguin (scientific name: Pygoscelis papua) species is the third-largest species of penguins in the world. Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua), are found in the Antarctic Peninsula, the Falkland Islands, sub-Antarctic islands, and various other islands around the frozen continent of Antarctica. A typical gentoo penguin habitat is an ice-free area, such as coastal plains, cliffs, and sheltered valleys.

The adults weigh around 10-19 lb (4.5-8.5 ks) and the typical gentoo penguin height varies from 30-40 in (76.2-101.6 cm). They have black and white feathers, a bright red-orange bill, and noticeable white eye patches. The average gentoo penguin life span is between 13 and 15 years and the typical gentoo penguin diet comprises fish, squid, krill, and crustaceans. Fish actually make up about 15% of their diet. The breeding season and cycle of a gentoo penguin are more variable than they are for other penguins. Gentoos start breeding when they are between two and three years old. A female gentoo lays two eggs, which are protected by both the parents until they hatch. Predators of gentoo penguins include sea animals like killer whales, sea lions, and leopard seals. According to the 2019 verification, gentoo penguins have been listed as Least Concern in the IUCN red list so there are no major concerns surrounding their conservation.

Here are some interesting facts on gentoo penguins for everyone to enjoy. If you like these, then do read our guide to the chinstrap penguin and king penguin too!

Gentoo Penguin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gentoo penguin?

The gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) is a penguin species. It is the third-largest penguin species in the world.

What class of animal does a gentoo penguin belong to?

Gentoo penguins belong to the class Aves.

How many gentoo penguins are there in the world?

The estimated population of the gentoo penguin species is approximately 387,000 pairs. This was last assessed by the IUCN in 2018.

Where does a gentoo penguin live?

Gentoo penguins are usually found in polar regions. They live in the various sub-Antarctic islands. In order to promote ideal breeding, gentoo penguins live in areas of cold climate but in ice-free areas like flats, coastal plains, cliffs, and sheltered low-lying valleys of the Antarctic region. The South Shetland islands, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic peninsula are some of the locations of breeding colonies of gentoos.

What is a gentoo penguin's habitat?

As mentioned above, gentoo penguins are found in ice-free areas, such as coastal plains, cliffs, and sheltered valleys.

Who do gentoo penguins live with?

Gentoo penguins tend to live with their own kind. They are found in colonies of breeding pairs, ranging from colonies with a few dozen breeding pairs to many thousands. These charismatic waddlers live in pairs in the Antarctic Peninsula and in numerous regions and islands surrounding this frozen continent.

How long does a gentoo penguin live?

The gentoo penguin species life cycle lasts between 15 and 20 years. The toughest battle for their survival is usually in the first year of their life, when there is only a 30-40% chance that that they will make it to their next year.

How do they reproduce?

Gentoo penguin mating is relatively unique as they mate with the same partner every year. In September and October, the female adult gentoo penguin lays two eggs (spherical and white) which both parents take turns incubating and guarding for months. The eggs usually hatch 35 to 37 days after they are laid and the second of the two gentoo eggs is always smaller than the first one. The breeding pairs take the utmost care of their eggs and immediately after the egg-laying, these breeding pairs start building nests for their young. The nesting sites are usually built so that they can easily protect their gentoo eggs from humans and other threats.

A gentoo penguin chick remains in its nest for up to a month. During the days of early childhood, the chicks begin to form their own nests and nurseries. After three months, each chick starts developing into an adult gentoo, starts acquiring feathers, and going out on its own. At this point the gentoo penguin life cycle starts again and these new adult females lay two eggs, and in their breeding pair take care of the eggs.

What is their conservation status?

In 2007, the IUCN declared the gentoo penguins as a Near Threatened species of penguins, but according to the 2019 verification, gentoo penguins have now been listed as Least Concern in the IUCN red list. This means that they are not yet an endangered species. In fact, they are on the list of penguins who are increasing in numbers and domain, which is great news!

Despite this, in some regions, their population is decreasing due to local pollution and disrupted fisheries. Gentoo penguin predators include sea lions, killer whales, and leopard seals but thankfully the penguins are protected by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959.

Gentoo Penguin Fun Facts

What do gentoo penguins look like?

A gentoo penguin is a penguin with white and black colored feathers and a white patch on its belly. Gentoo penguin characteristics and attributes include pinkish-white colors, webbed feet, a bright reddish-orange bill, and a long-tail (considered to be the longest amongst the family of penguins). They also have a noticeable white stripe at the top of their head. The typical gentoo penguin size varies from 30-40 in (76.2-101.6 cm) and the average gentoo penguin weight ranges from 10-19 lb (4.5-8.5 kg).

Gentoo penguins are the fastest swimming penguins in the world, with a speed of 22 mph

How cute are they?

At any age, both as adults and as young penguins, they are very cute and are particularly loved by children who are always on the lookout for more gentoo penguin facts for kids!

How do they communicate?

Gentoo penguins communicate with the help of squawking vocalization sounds and also perform certain physical behaviors called displays. They make use of their vocal and visual displays to communicate about nesting duties, to carry out partner and chick recognition, to communicate mating information, discuss nesting territories, and defend against intruders.

How big is a gentoo penguin?

The gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) is eight times bigger than a cat. A gentoo penguin weighs around 10-19 lb (4.5-8.5 kg), and this penguin species has an average height of 30 in (76.2 cm).

How fast can a gentoo penguin swim?

The average gentoo penguin speed is significantly faster than that of other penguins. The fastest speed that a gentoo penguin can swim is about 22 mph (35 kmph). To compare, most penguins swim underwater at a speed of 4-7 mph (6.4-11.2 kmph).

How much does a gentoo penguin weigh?

The weight of a gentoo penguin varies between 10-19 lb (4.5-8.5 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male gentoo penguins are called cocks while the females are called hens.

What would you call a baby gentoo penguin?

A baby gentoo penguin is called a gentoo chick.

What do they eat?

Gentoos eat a mix of small fish, crustaceans, krill, and squid. They are often described as opportunistic hunters. Their diet is made up of 15% fish.

Are gentoo penguins aggressive?

Gentoo penguins are very laid back and show very few signs of aggression most of the time. These penguins are very social and act friendly among themselves and with other species of penguins, but they can become a little aggressive when it comes to protecting their eggs and their young's nests.

Would they make a good pet?

No, gentoos would not make a good pet because they are adapted to live in an open environment in the Antarctic region.

Did you know...

Some of the best facts about the gentoo penguin for kids include the fact that gentoo penguins don't have a yearly migration cycle and that they also breed in regions free of snow and ice.

The gentoo penguin swimming speed is 22 mph (35 kmph) and the species is known to be the fastest swimming penguin in the world.

Cleanliness is very important to them, especially when it comes to egg laying, so a gentoo penguin nest is always found in clean areas that are not too dirty.

The name 'gentoo' might seem unusual and the truth is we don't actually know where it came from or why this species of penguin were given this name. It's one big mystery about the breed!

Why are gentoo penguins endangered?

According to the 2019 verification, gentoo penguins have been listed as Least Concern in the IUCN red list so luckily they are not endangered. In 2007, the IUCN had declared that gentoo penguins were a Near Threatened species of penguins. But, as last assessed by the IUCN in 2018, the gentoo penguin population is estimated to be approximately 774,000 adult penguins today so they are not yet endangered. In fact, they are the only species of penguins that are increasing in number and domain so cannot be described as rare.

Do gentoo penguins mate for life?

Gentoo penguin mating is quite unique as the adults usually mate with the same partner every year. Gentoo penguins are also considered to be monogamous, meaning that male and female penguins mate with each other exclusively for the duration of the mating season. These breeding pairs of gentoos work together to protect their nests and their gentoo penguin eggs (or egg) within their colonies against predators until they hatch as chicks and grow up to become adults. This nesting and mating process carried out by parents in colonies is just one of many unique gentoo penguin adaptations that make gentoos so fascinating to study at any age.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the great green macaw, or the secretary bird.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Gentoo penguin coloring pages.

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