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Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin Facts

Size 30-35 in (75-90 cm)
Speed Up to 22 mph (36 km/h) (in the water)
Weight 9-19 lb (4-8.5 kg)
Lifespan 15-20 years
Food Fishes, Squid, Krill
Predators Orcas, leopard seals, sharks, skuas
Habitat Antarctic region, Falkland Isles, South Georgia, Southern Ocean
Order Penguins
Family Penguins
Scientific name Pygoscelis papua
Characteristics Fastest penguin, orange-colored bill and feet

Main Characteristics

Gentoos are very shy penguins living in large colonies in the Antarctic region. Gentoos can be easily distinguished from other penguins. They have a bright orange bill and a white stripe above their eyes extending over the top of their heads.

Gentoo Penguin Photo: fieldwork/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance

The Third Largest Penguin

Among 18 penguin species the gentoo is the third-largest. Only the king penguin and the emperor penguin are even taller.


Gentoo Penguin Photo: fieldwork/Shutterstock


Donkey or Penguin?

The gentoo has a weird call which resembles the braying of a donkey. The gentoo uses its call as a warning against egg thieves or to impress female gentoos.

Gentoo Penguin Photo: vladsilver/Shutterstock


The Speeders Among The Penguins

Gentoos are extremely fast under water and would “outswim” all other penguin species. With more than 20 mph (36 km/h) they are the fastest penguins, but they are also the shyest of them all.

Gentoo Penguin Photo: fieldwork/Shutterstock



A Nest Made of Stones?

Gentoos use stones to build their nests and stack them in a circle. The nests measure up to 10 inch (25 cm) in diameter and are up to 8 inch (20 cm) high. Doesn’t sound very cozy. Luckily they also add some feathers and some moss.

Gentoos always build their nests on iceless ground, either on the coast or up-country between protecting tufts of grass. Their eggs weigh about 4.5 oz (130 g) and are being incubated by both parents alterrnately for 34-36 days.

After hatching the baby birds stay in the nest for about 30 days. After 80-100 days their plumage is dense enough to protect them from the icy water.

Fighting Over Stones

The stones are heavily guarded and quite frequently there are loud arguments as to who owns which stones - mainly between male gentoos. They even fight to get hold of the best and most beautiful stones. Why? They want to give them to female penguins in order to gain their sympathy.

The Gentoo Penguin Is Related To:

  • Adélie Penguin
  • Chinstrap Penguin

Animals in the Same Biome:

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