Penguins

It’s a well known fact that penguins are not like most other birds. These highly specialized birds are adapted to living at sea — spending as much as 75% of their lives at sea. Its true they cannot fly; instead they swim through the sea at amazing speeds using their “wings” as flippers.

Shiny feathers uniformly overlap to cover a penguin’s skin, much like shingles on a roof. Penguin feathers are short, broad, and closely spaced. This helps keep water away from the skin. Penguins have more feathers than most other birds, with about 100 feathers per square inch.

Join our Penguin Experience Tour to get a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Penguin Encounter. Learn how we care for these remarkable birds and get the chance to meet one for yourself!

SeaWorld San Diego is world-renowned for our successful penguin breeding program. More than 500 penguin chicks representing eight species have been hatched and raised here, including the first-ever chinstrap and emperor penguins in the last 30 years. The most recent emperor hatching in 2010 marks the 21st emperor chick to hatch in our park. Visit the Penguin Encounter to try to catch a glimpse of some of our recent additions!

Q: How many different types of penguins are there?
SW: There are 18 different penguin species: emperor, king, gentoo, Adélie, chinstrap, little, yellow-eyed, Snares, macaroni, northern and southern rockhopper, Fiordland, erect-crested, Royal, African, Humboldt, Magellanic, and Galápagos.

Q: Do they only live in Antarctica?
SW: Penguins are actually found on every continent below the equator, including some of the warmest and coldest places on the planet.

Q: Are they endangered?
SW : It depends on the species, but many are facing growing survival risks. The Galápagos, yellow-eyed, northern rockhopper, African and erect-crested penguins are endangered. Threats include habitat and nesting site loss, entanglement in fishing gear, overfishing of prey, and global climate change.

Q: What do penguins eat?
SW: Penguins dine on a diet of shrimp-like crustaceans called krill, as well as fishes and squids.

Q: How big do they get?
SW: The emperor penguin is the largest of all living penguins, standing at 3.7 feet tall. The smallest of the penguins is the little penguin, standing at just 16 inches tall.