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Emperor penguin

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Emperor penguin
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Scientific Classification
Binomial

Aptenodytes forsteri

Emperor Penguins are an extremely diverse species of the class Aves. They are mostly aquatic, with specially developed features to survive the cold and water. The most interesting thing as a species is their unique mating habits, with a relationship between mates almost mirroring a marriage. Penguins are extremely tough, and can survive through hard habitats and starvation.

Anatomy

Emperor Penguin Swimming

Male and female Emperor Penguins cannot usually be told apart, with the exception of a special stage of the breeding process. In this process the male looks after the single egg produced by the female and looses up to 50 percent of its body mass. At full growth these penguins can weigh up to 40 kilograms and reach a height of 115 centimeters.

This particular species of penguin is the largest of all. They have a white elongated torso, and completely black-grey back. Their knife-like flipper arms extend to about halfway down their torso and are used for balance and as a propellant underwater. The penguins head is completely black with the exception of two orange marks on either side of its neck, and another orange mark on its lower beak.

Baby penguins, or chicks as they are called, have a mass of silver down feathers that they eventually shed for their oily thick feathers that constantly grow over each other. [1]

Reproduction

Penguin Breeding Colonies

Reproduction in Emperor Penguins starts with finding a mate. This process is long and critical because Emperor penguins stay together most of their lives reproducing and supporting each other. Penguins assemble at breeding colonies where they meet each other.

Reproduction for Emperor Penguins is very tricky, and does not allow for many mistakes. The female, after finding a suitable male, gives birth to one hard-shelled egg. Only one egg because the energy it takes to produce more than that is too much for the female to handle. At a particular time in the winter season the baby is born and it is the male’s job to take care of it, although the female has been known to keep the egg in her protection for awhile before leaving it to the male.

Emperor Penguin Chicks

The male Emperor Penguin keeps the egg warm by carrying it in between his two feet and laying a layer of feathered skin over the egg. This is called the “incubation process” and during this time the male does not eat at all. The incubation process occurs during a time of complete darkness in the weather. Males usually sleep most of this two-month process to conserve energy. [2]

Ecology

Penguins are very well adapted swimmers and can dive up to 1,870 feet. They can swim up to 12 miles per hour, and they are able to hold their breath as long as 20 minutes. A penguins main diet is smaller fish in the area where they live. Emperor Penguins usually abide in a colder climate, mainly Antarctica. But Emperor Penguins are very skilled swimmers and often explore other ocean bodies in search of more food. Their bodies allow them to live in both moderate and extreme cold.

Penguins move awkwardly due to their peculiarly small feet. Their walk is often referred to as a ‘waddle’ but they can also slide on their stomachs with great ease.

Penguins are also very social, living in large groups most of their lives. They usually huddle together to stay warm during the colder nights. Through the months of January to March, Emperor Penguins travel in groups in the ocean to hunt and find nesting grounds together. [3]

Conservation and Extinction Facts

  • There are 17 penguin species and all of them are protected from hunting and collection of their eggs.
  • SeaWorld has taken in eight different penguin species to live in their parks. Every species has successfully reproduced in the park.
  • An organization called Species Survival Plan sets up programs and oversees the rehabilitation of captive penguins in many zoos and aquariums.
  • The Kerguelen Islands (part of Antartica) has been a national park since 1924.
  • Galàpagos Penguins are now considered an endangered species. [4]

Gallery

Related References

See Also

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