African Penguin Facts

Penguin Facts - 25 Facts about the African Penguin you possibly do not know

Penguin Facts25 Facts about the penguin

Penguin Facts - 25 Facts about the African Penguin you possibly do not know...

Where? The Penguin Route in the Western and Eastern Cape, South Africa

When? Best between the months of August and December

Overnight? See Western Cape Accommodation and Eastern Cape Accommodation

  1. April 25 is unofficially World Penguin Day and January 20th is Penguin Awareness Day
  2. All penguin species are found in the southern hemisphere (except for the occasional Galapagos penguin venturing across the equator)
  3. African penguins have still not recovered from the Apollo Sea oil spill of 1994 near Dassen Island
  4. The subsequent Treasure oil spill in 2000 affected almost twice the number of penguins (mostly around Dassen and Robben island), but the capture, stabilisation and transport of oiled penguins was much more effective
  5. Oil kills penguins, impairing the feathers ability to insulate, leaving penguins to die of hypothermia in water, or from starvation on land (they cannot enter the water with hypothermia)
  6. St Croix Island Marine Reserve in Algoa Bay has the largest African penguin colony
  7. There are only 2 mainland penguin colonies in South Africa – Boulders Beach, and Stony Point
  8. African penguins have brilliant underwater vision, but on land they are nearsighted
  9. African penguin youngsters have a grey face and do not have the pied black and white pattern of adults
  10. They are non migratory although some have ventured as far as Setta Cama, Gabon and Inhaca Island, Mozambique
  11. They are particularly partial to anchovy and 80% of their diet is fish
  12. They usually lay 2 eggs, incubated by both parents, which hatch after roughly five and a half weeks
  13. They begin breeding between the ages of two and six but usually at around four years of age
  14. They swim at an average 7km to 24km an hour and can remain underwater for two and a half minutes
  15. A recent study has revealed that a young African penguin can clock up an average of 45km a day
  16. They have very sharp beaks, so do not even try to handle them
  17. The pink patch above their eyes is a sweat gland and the darker it gets the hotter the penguin feels
  18. They have salt-water glands in their heads that purify the sea water they drink and they sneeze out the salt crystals
  19. Penguins are by nature nervous and do not like being around people, although the Boulders colony is unusually tame
  20. When they are stressed they make a sideways movement with their heads
  21. Recently an emperor penguin travelled 3 200 kilometres ending up on a beach in New Zealand, where he promptly swallowed a lot of sand, mistaking it for snow – he's been nicknamed 'Happy Feet'
  22. Penguins evolved in the tropics and have adapted to cold climates, not vice versa
  23. One rehabilitated African penguin was aged 24 years when last seen on Dyer Island in 1995 – one of only five believed to have lived beyond 20 years
  24. In Oct 2008 an African penguin, left to starve by its parents on Dyer Island, off Gansbaai, swam all the way around Cape Point and north to Mercury Island near Luderitz – the first sighting of a rubber banded penguin in Namibia
  25. The whites of penguin eggs, when boiled, do not set, although the yolk does (a throwback to the years in which we harvested eggs from the island in their thousands)

Featured "Penguin" Activities

The Penguins at Boulders Beach

Where? Simons Town
Enjoy a day lazing at Boulders Beach and see the world famous penguin colony. Take a dip in the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean and find yourself swimming with the Penguins. Just remember this area is a sanctuary for them and they and their...

More info and contact details: The Penguins at Boulders Beach

Watch Penguins Play

Where? Bettys Bay
Things in life aren't always black and white... except for the African Penguin. Of course things that are black and white leave little room for individuality... except for the African Penguin whose specific monochromatic markings are so...

More info and contact details: Watch Penguins Play


African Penguin
Conservation Status

  • Endangered

Did you know?

African penguins have brilliant underwater vision, but on land they are nearsighted.

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