Humboldt Penguin

Humboldt's Penguin at Wingham Wildlife Park

Humboldt Penguin Natural History


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.


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


The majority of this bird’s 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 sitting on to incubate for around 39 days but this is not where this shared parenting finishes. Once the eggs hatch, both parents will take turns in feeding the chicks.


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 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 (10.15am).

We are currently home to 17 penguins and their names are Hurricane, Palamedes, Pingu, Isobel, Bubbles, Kermit, Lily, Mumble, Penny, Pippin, Dougie, Mr. Ashcroft, Lucie, Dave, and Scofield. Our two newest additions hatched in 2024; they are called Pigeon and Podrick. Pigeon’s parents are Mumble and Pingu, and Podrick’s parents are Lily and Palamedes. You can identify them by their different band colours.

Penguin NameLeft BandRight Band
LilyYellow and BlueNone
Mr AshcroftBlueWhite

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. We have a very successful breeding group here at the park, so if you are lucky during the spring/summer you may even be able to sneak a peak at a fluffy penguin chick.

The more you know…

Want to know more about this animal? Check out our keeper blogs about them here.

Bird Couples

The Animals of Star Wars

Annual Penguin Moult

Fantastic Feathers: But How and Why Are Birds So Colourful

Fantastic Feathers Part II: How Do Birds Care For Their Feathers?

How Birds Stay Cool, and How You Can Help

Humboldt Penguins: From Egg To Fledgling 

Our Conservation Activities

Our Valentine’s 

Penguin Awareness Day 2023