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African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

African Penguins weight from 2.1kg to 3.7kg, and stand approximately 60cm in height.  They have a black stripe on their chests and a black chin. Like all penguins, African Penguins have a large head, a short, thick neck, a streamlined shape, a short, small, flipper-like wings and wedge-shaped tail. They use their webbed feet for swimming. Penguins have a lighter color on the belly and a darker color on their back; this coloration helps camouflage them when they are in the water, hiding them from predators (from below them predators see the light belly and from above them predators see their dark backs).

Jackass Penguins at Stony Point in Bettys Bay

They have pink sweatglands above their eyes. The warmer the weather, the more blood is sent to these sweat glands (to allow it to be cooled by the surrounding air), thus making the glands pinker.

Their shiny, waterproof feathers help keep their skin dry.   Penguins molt annually over about a 3 week period (losing their old feathers and growing new ones) during which they cannot swim and do not eat.  Moulting season is from October to February.  Their peak moulting time is during December, after which they head out to sea to feed.

Juveniles have a light belly & blue-grey backs and they lack the white face markings and black breast band of the adults. Juveniles have bare, red bare patches above of the eyes, and a few randomly placed black spots on the chest and belly.

African Penguin


Penguins are flightless birds.

Where to find them

Other than on islands, you can find penguins in Bettys Bays and Simonstown (near Cape Town).

penguin coming out of the bush and saying hello


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