Best 10 King penguin Facts, height, breeding, population

King penguin

King penguins were initially discovered by the Europeans in the 18th century. Back then, the explorers thought that King penguins are the biggest penguin species known to be thriving on the Earth. But, in 1884 they diversified King penguins as they discovered Emperor Penguins which were even bigger in size.

Many people confuse King penguins with Emperor penguins, and there is a solid reason for that. King Penguins are closely related to Emperor penguins. Both of these penguins belong to the genus Aptenodytes. The word is derived from the Greek language, and it means “Featherless divers.”

King penguins are the second largest penguins in the world. As in most penguin species the male penguins are bigger than the female penguins. Through the year their body weight and masses change depending upon the supply of the food. 

When these penguins approach the breeding season they weigh about 10-15 kilograms, as soon as the breeding season ends they lose weight and then they only weigh up to 8-11 kilograms.

King penguins are easily determinable by their bright orange ear patches. King penguins are not that massive when compared to Emperor penguins. Also, the orange color and pattern on their ears also differentiates them from Emperor penguins.

King penguin Introduction

The king penguins with the scientific name of Aptenodytes patagonicus, are the second largest penguin species that inhabit the sub-Antarctic Islands, i.e. South Georgia, Prince Edward, Crozet, and Macquarie Island. If we talk about king penguin size, they have a length between the ranges of 33.4 to 37.4 inches and weigh approximately 37 pounds. Furthermore, they are considered the brightest of all the penguin species due to their colorful feathers. The average lifespan of these birds is about 26 years. Here, we are going to discuss many of the exciting facts about these animal species.

King penguin height

They are about 28 to 29 inches tall; the males are larger in size as compared to females. These king penguins with orange and red-colored cheeks and bills and black and white-colored belly are monomorphic, but their calls can recognize the females and males. They have swimming speeds between the ranges of 5 and 10km/hour and can dive up to 200 feet.

King penguin adaptations

There are many of the interesting adaptations about these birds some of them are as given below:

  1. ·       The white-colored bellies and black-colored backs are present in them for camouflage purposes
  2. ·       They have hollow bones which makes them light-weight
  3. ·       These penguins do not make nests but incubate their eggs under bellies to keep them warm
  4. ·       The four levels of feathers are present in them while the top one is water-resistant

King penguin 1

King penguin breeding

These birds have a much longer breeding cycle than other penguin species. Their egg-laying process is highly asynchronous; they usually lay eggs between November and April. During the mating seasons, the female lays one white-colored pear-shaped egg, which is initially very soft, weighing about 0.66 pounds only.  In addition to this, these king penguins breed yearly on the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

King penguin baby

After the hatching of a king penguin, it does not seems similar to its parents. Instead of this, the king penguin baby has very soft feathers, which keeps them warm against cold. When these babies reach the maturity level, their feather becomes orange and black-colored. These adults move around in groups of about five to twenty individuals.

King penguin facts

There are present many of the exciting king penguin fun facts, some of which include that these penguins don’t hop and walk very slowly. In addition to this, their eyes’ pupil is of circular shape, which becomes square-shaped after the constriction.  After leaving their colonies, they will not come back until reaching the maturity level. There are also present about 2.23 million breeding pairs of them all around the world.

King penguin lifespan

Like all other animal species, these birds also have a specific lifespan after which they die. These king penguins have an approximate lifespan of about 26 years in the wild, but it becomes 41 years for those who live in captivity. This lifespan is also dependent on diet and other survival sources.

King penguin diet

These animal species, like other living creatures, require proper diet and food for their survival. Their diet includes mainly lantern fish, squid, and small fish. Although other animals cannot drink salty water, these birds have a well-developed stomach for drinking this salt water. This stomach easily separates the salt from water, thus protecting these penguins from dehydration.

King penguin population

The estimated population of the king penguins is approximately 2.23 million. Researches have shown that these are not categorized as endangered species because their population is rapidly increasing day by day. However, there may be the chance of a decrease in their population due to habitat loss and other threats.

King penguin predators

There are present many threats to these penguins, one of which includes predators. The predators that eat these animal species are killer whales, leopard seals, skuas, giant petrels, and sheathbills. If we talk about humans, they are not included among their predators due to their social nature.

King penguin behavior

The king penguins move around in the groups of about 5 to 20 individuals or large colonies. Furthermore, they use different visual displays and vocalizations for communicating with each other. They also are very aggressive and sometimes can cause great harm, if provoked. That’s the reason they are not considered a good choice to be kept as pets.

King penguin habitat

Aptenodytes patagonicus species habitat includes Islands’ vegetated areas Sub-Antarctica and southern oceans. They spend most of their day times in the ocean feeding. These king penguin birds also like to fish in waters where the surface air temperatures are about 4.5 degrees Celsius. It has also been found that they nest and mate on the rocky shores. Like Antarctic penguins, they do not depend on ice and are also not at risk of extinction.

King penguin conservation status

These beautiful penguins have been the source of great tourist attraction. They are very tolerant and do not attack humans. Due to their increasing population, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has listed them as least concerned species.

King penguin 2


Sometimes the people get confused even after reading the exciting facts and information about these animal species and raise some questions to make their minds clear. So, the answers to some of those raised questions are as mentioned below:

Why are king penguins called king penguins?

After the discovery of these penguins by European explorers in the 18th century, they appeared to be the second largest species of penguins. Due to this reason, these birds species were given the names of king penguins.

What do king penguins do?

They have many adaptations for survival; for example, they feed on krill, squid, and lantern fish. On the other hand, they can dive as deep as 300 feet, and the recorded depths of their diving is up to about 1000 feet. These animal species also do not build nests for eggs but incubate them under their bellies for keeping them hot against the cold environment.

How long does a king penguin live?

Like all other animal species, these penguins also live a specific period of life. For example, the expected lifespan of them in the wild is about twenty-six years, while those penguins who live in captivity have an average lifespan of about forty-one years. Their lifespan is also dependent on diet and other survival sources.

Do king penguins swim?

Yes, these penguins can swim and catch the food in the water. They leave their colonies where they are born when they become fully mature. There is the presence of an insulator named brown juvenile, which becomes very poor when wet. But it becomes an excellent insulator in the air.

How do king penguins behave?

These attractive and beautiful birds mostly travel in groups containing almost five to twenty members of their own species. They use different visual displays and vocalization methods to get communicated with each other during the territory situations and also for getting mating information.

King penguin 3

Where are king penguins found?

These penguins are usually found on the Sub-Antarctic Island between 45 and 55 degrees S. They are also found in Patagonia and on the South Sandwiched Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. These birds also do not hop and walk very slowly.

What are baby king penguins called?

The baby king penguins are called king chicks. They are very curious and start to explore about their surroundings. After the gestation period of about fifty-five days, these chicks having very soft feathers hatch. The males are slightly larger in size as compared to females.

How many babies do king penguins have?

As a clutch contain two eggs, these penguins lay clutches. So, we can say that these penguins lay two eggs yearly and incubate them under their bellies. It takes about 45 to 75 days for the hatching of these eggs.

Do king penguins mate for life?

As these penguins are monogamous, they have only one mate each year, thus remaining faithful to their mates. Also, the average age of their first breeding is between the ranges of five to six years.

How long does it take for a king penguin egg to hatch?

It takes about forty-five to seventy-five days for the eggs of these penguins to hatch. The female lay eggs and keep them under bellies for incubation.


As we have discussed many of the interesting facts and information about these animal species, they have been the source of a great tourist attraction due to their beauty. It has been estimated that these birds’ population is rapidly increasing day by day and are considered the least concerned species. In addition to this, these birds are also at risk of being eaten by other species. For example, their predators include sharks, leopard seals, skuas, giant petrels, killer whales, and sheathbills. However, king penguins do not attack humans and remain calm until they are provoked. We must support the centers rescuing these species and also try to remain calm and patient with them.

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