King penguin

Aptenodytes patagonicus

 A king penguin is looking at the camera. He has a black head with yellow spots on his beak, behind his eyes and on his neck. His back is dark and his belly is white. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Spheniscidae (penguins)
  • Weight
    ca. 12 kg
  • Habitat
    Subantarctic snowy landscapes, sparsely vegetated coastal regions, spends a lot of time in the sea

Egg transfer

King penguins do not build nests for their offspring. Instead they incubate their egg by holding it on their feet under a specially adapted fold of abdominal skin. The shell of the egg is relatively thick to minimise risk of breakage: the female and male roll the egg to each other’s feet when the parents take turns incubating.

The picture shows three king penguins standing together in a semicircle.

Juvenile plumage

King penguin chicks have a warm, brown down of feathers. Only after moulting into their juvenile plumage will they gain the typical black-and-white penguin colouration. It can take up to three years for the yellow markings on the juvenile’s head and neck to reach the colour intensity of adults.

Penguins use their tail to support themselves when waddling. To go even faster, they can toboggan over ice and snow by sliding on their stomach.


Distribution King penguin