POPSUGAR Celebrity

Fun Penguin Facts to Celebrate Penguin Awareness Day

Jan 20 2016 - 10:30am

There's no denying that penguins are seriously cute, and the flightless birdie has some pretty unique characteristics, too. Not only can they stay underwater for 20 minutes at a time, but penguins live and thrive in frigid temperatures. Celebrate everything penguin today, which happens to be Penguin Awareness Day, with this collection of interesting facts paired with adorable penguin-filled pictures. You'll be amazed at how smart, special, and silly these birds are!

— Additional reporting by Hedy Phillips

Chicks require parental care for survival, including being fed regurgitated food. Adult penguins also protect babes from the cold by covering them with their brood patch, found under their bellies.

If you notice that pink spot above their eyes where a lid would be — those glands actually get more pink, the hotter the penguin gets! More blood is then sent to the glands [1], darkening the color, so it can be cooled by the surrounding air and thus cool birdie, too.

After hatching, baby penguins stay in the nest where they are fed by their parents. Young penguins are often grouped into nurseries and watched by other penguins while parents hunt for food. Even though the penguins may all look alike, they have no problem finding their babes when returning from a long day away.

Chicks break out of their protective shells by poking a small hole in their eggs using their beaks. Then they chip at the shell until they can eventually push themselves out. It can take a chick up to three days to break free from the shell, which is done without assistance from the parents.

The African Penguins [2] live in colonies on dozens of islands, with the largest on Dyer Island [3] off South Africa.

Most newly hatched chicks are covered in a fine down of feathers, except for the King Penguins which hatch naked and grow feathers within a few weeks. The down feathers aren't waterproof, which makes baby penguins unable to swim. Once a penguin turns 1, adult plumage grows in, and penguins are introduced to the water.

Topping out at four feet tall and up to 100 pounds, the Emperor Penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all penguin species. And these big birds can live up to 50 years.

The annual March of the Penguins at the San Francisco Zoo allows guests to get up close and personal with toddler penguins being reunited with their colony after a month of getting used to zoo trainers. The zoo houses one of the largest captive Magellanic colonies in the world. Native to South America, the medium-size Magellanic Penguin mates with the same partner year after year, unlike Emperor Penguins, which change mates yearly.

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