African Penguin

Category: Sea Life

The African penguin, also known as the black-footed penguin, is a species of bird endemic only to the waters of Africa. Like all penguins, they are flightless and have specially developed flippers that allow them to speed through the water in search of prey.

African Penguin

African Penguin

African Penguin (swimming)

African Penguin (swimming)

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Aves

Order - Sphenisciformes

Family - Spheniscidae

Genus - Spheniscus

Species - S. demersus

Common Names – African Penguin, South African Penguin, Black-footed Penguin


African penguins grow to about two feet tall and weight between five and eight pounds. They are entirely black and white, except for special glands above their eyes which are pink. These glands regulate the penguin's body temperature, and when the penguin gets hotter, more blood is pumped to the gland. This means the hotter the penguin gets, the pinker the gland appears.


African penguins spend much of their time at sea, coming ashore mainly to breed, during a season that lasts from March to May. These birds are monogamous, meaning they stay with the same mate. The male and female take turns sitting on the eggs until they hatch. The parents care for the chicks after hatching for about a month before heading back into the sea to find food. At this point, the chicks join a larger communal group of chicks.


Almost all of this penguin's time is spent in the open ocean foraging for food, which includes small fish, squid, and crustaceans. It must also be wary to look out for its many predators, which include sharks, seals, and killer whales.


The African penguin was first described in 1758. It is a member of a group of penguins known as banded penguins, which mostly live in the Southern Hemisphere. Its relatives include the Galapagos penguin and the Humboldt penguin.

Present status

Unfortunately, due to its niche habitat and the constant expansion of human populations, the African penguin is considered endangered and is suffering from a large loss of its living area as well as a drop off its in primary source of prey. More specifically, commercial fisheries that collect sardines and anchovies have forced African penguins to hunt for much less nutritious prey.