Habitat & Range
Penguin habitat is located at warm latitudes in rocky, sandy, coastal areas.
This species of penguin inhabits 24 coastal islands off southern Africa between Namibia and Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
African (Black-Footed) Penguin
Penguins are flightless birds that virtually fly through the water. They have a streamlined torpedo-shaped body and wings that have been reduced to strong, stiff flippers that help rapidly propel them through the water. They have webbed feet and legs that are set back on the body. The legs and tail are used like rudders for steering. Diving down to catch fish, African penguins can stay under water for as long as five minutes and can swim at an average rate of three to six mph (5-10 kph).
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
The African penguin population has been reduced by about 90% in the past century and currently only about 120,000 birds remain. The decline in the population was due to several factors including harvesting of eggs for human consumption, reduction in the penguin’s food supply due to commercial fishing, removal of guano used by the penguins for burrowing sites and oil pollution from oil tankers. Increased competition for breeding space with larger animals such as seals is also impacting penguin numbers. Penguins that breed on the mainland are vulnerable to predation and colonies are disturbed by the presence of humans. There are ongoing efforts to protect breeding colonies on coastal islands. Along with conservation organizations, the Denver Zoo has participated in efforts to rescue penguins affected by oil spills.
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