Article: Do all penguins live in cold climates? Print

do-all-penguins-live-in-cold-climates-300From Chilly Willy to Opus to Tux, the Linux mascot, penguins have had a special spot in popular culture for quite a while. In fact, both the real creatures and their animated counterparts have hit the big screen in a big way. Obviously, penguins are fascinating. Is it the human-like quality of walking upright that makes penguins so alluring? Or maybe it’s their “fancy dress.” Really, how many creatures sport permanent tuxedos? Whatever it is, these flightless, aquatic birds intrigue us. Get fascinating facts about this lovable bird.

  • Not all penguins live in super cold climates.
  • Within the penguin family, there are several species. The total number is debatable; some say there are 17 species while others say as many as 19 exist.
  • All penguins reside in the Southern Hemisphere. But most do not live in Antarctica. In fact, only two species actually live on the Antarctic coastline – the Emperor (those seen in “March of the Penguins”) and the Adélie.
  • There are penguins in and around Australia and New Zealand. You can find penguins in many areas along the tip of South Africa. And you can find penguins up and around the coast of South America and in the Galapagos Islands.
  • Located on the equator, the Galapagos Islands are the warmest penguin home of all. With average temperatures of around 73 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a big difference from the average temperature in Antarctica, which is minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit! So, if you’ve ever been to the zoo, observed penguins in an area that didn’t resemble a deep freezer and wondered if they’re OK – they probably are.
  • Off land, penguins are incredibly graceful – and fast. They can travel as fast as 11 to 15 miles per hour. Their shape, feet and wings make it all possible.
  • Although penguins do not soar through the air, they do use their wings to fly. Fly through the water, that is. A penguin’s wings are very different from those of other birds. In fact, they are really more like a seal’s flippers.
  • You can actually catch a glimpse of this grace among penguins on land. When in a snow-filled or icy environment, penguins will travel by tobogganing instead of walking. They flop down on their bellies and use their feet and wings to slide across the ice and snow.
  • Penguins have one other big difference from air-bound birds. Birds that fly through the air have very light-weight skeletons because their bones are hollow. Penguins have heavier, denser bones which helps them dive deep for food.
  • Because penguins need air, they can’t stay submerged for too long. While traveling through the water, they intermittently soar up and out of the water to take a deep breath and dive again. This activity resembles what porpoises do, so it is called porpoising. When it’s time to return to land, penguins again resemble humans by catching a wave and bodysurfing back to shore.

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