Aug 12
African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) photo

African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

Species: African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The African penguin is the only penguin species to breed on the African continent.

The African penguin is also known as the ‘jackass penguin’ due to its loud, braying call. Feeding on fish such as anchovies and sardines, African penguins are strong swimmers and can reach speeds of 20km/hour in the water. The African penguin is known to breed on 24 islands in southern Africa. Pairs return to the same site each year to breed. Both adults take turns to incubate the eggs and, following hatching, adults will guard and regurgitate food to the chicks. After 30 days the chicks are left in crèches while the adults forage.

It is estimated that the current African penguin population is just 10% of what it was at the turn of the 20th Century. These penguins are currently threatened by depleted fish stocks due to overfishing and oil spills. All of the breeding areas of the African penguin in South Africa are protected as Nature Reserves, and work to rescue oiled African penguins has been shown to be successful. Work to conserve fish stocks is crucial to protect the African penguin from extinction.

Find out more about the African penguin on the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums website.

See images and videos of the African penguin on ARKive.