African Penguin Facts
- Most notably, the amazing African Penguin, as the common name suggests, represents the only species of penguin native to Africa.
- It also remains well-known for its distinctive, and quite loud, donkey-like braying, earning it the nickname of the donkey penguin.
- Sadly, however, this precious and unique avian faces the threat of extinction, due to a rapid decline in its known population.
- Further, in the century between 1910 and 2010, its numbers plummeted precipitously, from an estimated 1.5 million to only 55,000.
- Humans previously hunted its eggs, beginning its decline. Since then, multiple oil spills and industrial fishing have further reduced its numbers.
- Finally, the IUCN, quite understandably, lists this remarkable bird as Endangered.
African Penguin Physical Description
Physically, the astonishing African Penguin ranks as a rather average sized species of penguin, with no discernible sexual dimorphism exhibited.
Further, mature individuals of this flightless avian attain a height ranging between 24 – 28 in (60 – 70 cm), and a weight of 4.9 – 7.7 lb (2.2 – 3.5 kg).
Also, the back remains primarily black, and the stomach white. However, a black stripe and black spots dot the stomach, unique to each bird.
In addition, a bright pink gland develops above the eyes, which actually plays a key role in regulating the body temperature of the animal.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Sphenisciformes
- Family: Spheniscidae
- Genus: Spheniscus
- Species: S. demersus
African Penguin Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Most notably, and sadly, the remarkable African Penguin inhabits a highly limited, as well as a specialized, portion of the southwest coast of Africa.
Further, almost the entire population of this animal remains spread out among a total of 24 small islands, between Algoa Bay and Namibia.
However, in recent years, a few mainland colonies have begun to appear, likely due to the rapid decline of mainland predators in the region.
Like related species, this creature also forages in the open sea, with its principal prey consisting of fish, crustaceans, and small squid.
Finally, its own natural predators include sharks and fur seals at sea, and numerous terrestrial animals while on land or nesting.