Facts about the African Black Footed Penguin

The Black footed penguins make the southern shores of Africa their home; more commonly known as the African penguin.   Most people don’t think of Africa when they think penguins because of the assumption that it is too warm a climate for the animal.  However, Africa’s southern shore from Gabon to Mozambique make the perfect chilly home for the Black footed penguin.  The Benguela current is where the Black footed penguins live and breed its waters can get quite cold with temperatures dipping down to – 13 degrees at night time.   

The Black-footed penguins are medium in size and they weight approximately 2-4 kilograms.  Black covers most of their body with white only showing on their torso and under the eyes.  The juvenile penguins can be picked from the herd as they differ with gray backs and have different facial patterns than their penguin parents. 

The Black footed penguins have a distinct mating call.  It resembles a donkey call. The Black footed penguins breed in Namibia and South Africa.  After four years of age they are ready to breed.  Their nests are carefully made from excrement.  The penguins mate with one penguin and return to the same partner every year faithfully.  They breed all throughout the year but November and March are the peak times.  The females lay two green eggs and the parents share nesting duties equally.  After only 30 days the baby penguins grow feathers and are ready for the world. 

Once mature a penguin can swim up to 15 mph and can remain underwater for 2-1/2 minutes.  A Black footed penguin will travel up to 30 miles to find food for its young.  The Black footed penguin likes to feast on anchovies, horse mackerel and small fish, like krill and crustaceans.  They typically live 10-11 years of age with the oldest penguin on record living up to 24 years of age. 

The black foot penguins are close to becoming extinct.  Once their population was 1.5 million now it stands at an estimated 120,000.  An oil spill in 2000 threatened their survival, prompting conservations groups to help in the rescue of the affected animal and return them to the wild.  The hunting of sharks and seals has helped in increasing their numbers as they are the Black footed penguin’s main predators.   Luckily, zoos in North America house a number of Black-footed penguins so we can still marvel at their beauty many years from now. 

References used for research:  http://www.macalester.edu/~montgomery/BlackFootedPenguin.html