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Penguins 101

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PENGUIN 101 You're probably aware of a black and white flightless bird that lives down in Antarctica… but how much do you really know about penguins? Get ready for your Penguin 101! WHAT IS A PENGUIN? WHAT DO THEY EAT? TELL ME A FEW QUICK PENGUIN FACTS! WHERE DO THEY LIVE? HOW MANY EGGS DO THEY LAY? Penguins are birds (animals in the taxonomic class 'Aves', if we're being technical) of the family Spheniscidae. Unlike the majority of birds, they have an inability to fly, instead using their flippers to efficiently propel them through the water. This makes them excellent swimmers and divers. There are 18 recognised species of penguin, ranging in size from the aptly named little penguin (~33cm tall, ~1.5kg) to the emperor penguin (~122cm tall and up to ~45kg). As mentioned before, penguins are great swimmers. This is good news when it comes to finding food, as they need to go to sea to hunt. Their diet varies depending on the species, but includes fish, squid, and a tiny crustacean called krill. Despite their snowy, huddling stereotype, only four species of penguin actually live on Antarctica. In fact, one species – the Galapagos penguin – lives as far north as the equator! Most penguins live in large groups called colonies or rookeries. Some of the more unusual habitats include: the temperate rainforest of New Zealand (where the Fiordland crested penguin can be found) and in burrows beneath mounds of grass (home to magellanic penguins). Many penguins lay two eggs, although the emperor and king penguins lay only one. While one parent incubates the eggs, the other parent can forage for food at sea, before swapping places. The emperor penguin is a little different – the father incubates the egg (against a warm, featherless brood patch) for many months, fasting throughout the winter until the female returns. • Penguins undergo a 'catastrophic molt' (they lose their feathers all in one go, rather than slow- ly throughout the year). • The offspring of many species form crèches, before they are ready to fully fledge. • The fastest swimmer is thought to be the gentoo penguin at 22mph! • Penguins have solid bones.

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