Humboldt’s Penguin

Humboldt's Penguin at Wingham Wildlife Park

Humboldt’s Penguin Natural History

Size

This is a medium sized Penguin which can reach a height of 26 to 28 inches and weighs between 9 and 13 pounds.

Habitat and Distribution

This is a South American species which can be found along the Pacific Coast. It generally lives along the coast and on small islands off Peru and Chile, where it inhabits rocky and desert habitats.

Age

The average life expectancy of this animal in the wild is between 15 and 20 years.

Diet

The majority of this birds diet is made up of small marine fish, however they will also often eat squid and crustaceans such as shrimp and krill. They do not need to drink separately from eating because they swallow sea water while they feed. As with all Penguins they have a special gland which removes all of the salt out of this water once it has been swallowed.

Groups and Breeding

Large groups of this species can be found in one area, however they do not have a specific breeding season, and can breed all year round in the wild. The times at which they mate are dependant on how abundant food is in their area and whether they have suitable nesting sites. The nests which they make are burrowed in to guano (which is Penguin faeces).

After mating the female will lay 2 eggs which both parents will take turns of sitting on to incubate for around 39 days, however this is not where this shared parenting finishes. Once the eggs hatch, both parents will take turns in feeding the chicks.

Threats

Vulnerable is how this species is described by the IUCN red list because their population size, and even the number of breeding colonies is decreasing every time they are assessed. This decline is due to a number of factors including over fishing by commercial trawlers (removing their food sources), harvesting of guano for fertiliser (removing their nest sites), rubbish (especially plastic) being dumped in the sea and pollution of the oceans by oil.

Interesting facts

To allow these birds to cool down more efficiently they are able to blush! They force extra blood to be sent to the surface of the skin around their cheeks, feet and wings allowing the air to cool down their blood better.

The Humboldt’s Penguin During Your Day Out in Kent

Our humboldt penguins can be seen in their open enclosure which includes a pebbled beach and 61,000 litre pool. There is also a viewing window at the deepest end of the pool to see what the penguins get up to under the water. If you arrive early to the park you may be able to see us taking the penguins for an early morning stroll around the park. Our keepers also do two feeds and talks every day about the penguins at 1.00 and 3.00 o’clock where they discuss both the individual characters of the penguins here at Wingham, their diet etc and the threats and lifestyle of those in the wild. Each year our penguins hatch more and more chicks and in 2018 we have welcomed ten new Humbodt’s penguin chicks.