Gentoo Penguin Facts
- Firstly, the truly remarkable Gentoo Penguin was first described by Johann Reinhold Forster, in 1781. The origin of the catchy name still remains unknown, though many theories currently abound.
- Further, underwater this incredible bird ranks as the fastest swimming of all penguins. This lovely species also remains fully capable of reaching speeds of up to 24 miles per hour (36 kph).
- But, this animal is easily distinguishable and quite fascinating. In addition, the avian remains one of only three recognized members of its genus. However, two subspecies do exist.
- Finally, its physical size ranks it as the third-largest known species of penguin. Only the two so-called giant penguin species currently recognized exceed it in size.
Gentoo Penguin Physical Description
Most notably, the impressive Gentoo Penguin is easily distinguished by its distinctive markings. This includes the wide white stripe which extends like a bonnet across the top of its head. It also includes the bright orange-red bill.
Its webbed feet remain a pale pinkish-white in color. This penguin also possesses a comparatively long tail. In fact, it has the longest tail of any known variety of penguin.
Individuals also attain a maximum height of about 3 ft (90 cm) and sometimes weigh as much as 19 lb ( 8.5 kg). This makes it the third largest of all known species of penguin.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Sphenisciformes
- Family: Spheniscidae
- Genus: Pygoscelis
- Species: P. papua
Gentoo Penguin Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Gentoo Penguin breeds on numerous sub-Antarctic islands and prefers shallow coastal regions for their habitat. These islands include South Georgia, The Falkland Islands, and the Kerguelin Islands. Experts estimate its current numbers at roughly at around 300,000.
The animal feeds primarily on crustaceans such as krill, with fish and small squid comprising approximately 15% of its diet. Its principal natural predators include orcas, sea lions and leopard seals.
Though its numbers may seem large, the IUCN has the bird officially listed as Near Threatened. This listing occurs because the numbers of this animal appear to be declining rapidly.