Gentoo Penguin

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Height: 76 to 81 cm (30 to 32 inches) for the average adult.

Weight: 5 to 7 kg (10 to 15 lbs) for the average adult.


  • Black with head that has a white “bonnet” from eye to eye forming a triangle over each eye.
  • Eyes have some white feathers surrounding them.
  • Penguin with most prominent tail feathers often seen up in the water as they swim.
  • Juveniles have paler throats and less defined white over eyes.


  • Pinkish orange.


  • Likes to feed on Antarctic krill and fish.


  • Lives in colonies on the flat, rocky coasts with easy access to the sea on islands located on the Antarctica Peninsula and other islands.
  • Gentoo’s have no shortage of nesting sites when they return to their breeding grounds and are not attached to any previous location in their area.
  • Nest is a scrape surrounded with pebbles, rocks and twigs but is aggressively defended on ice-free areas.
  • Males are responsible for gathering nesting materials while the female incorporates them into their nest.
  • Rookeries are small in number compared to the other penguin species.
  • Entire colonies have been known to be moved from the previous year’s site that is trampled and covered with faeces in favor of a better site.


  • The male secures a nest site and calls out with his bill pointed skyward.
  • When they find each other they bow and point their bills towards the nest.
  • Gentoos have the most simple of breeding behavior.
  • The females lay two eggs.
  • Both parents take turns incubating the eggs for about 35 days.
  • Parents take turns guarding and feeding the chicks.
  • The chick from the first hatched egg takes most of the food, gets stronger and is able to push the smaller chick out of the nest.
  • The second chick rarely survives.
  • At 25 days old the chick joins other chicks in a crèche allowing the parents to return to the sea and fish together.
  • Gentoos grow more slowly than any other penguin species.
  • Chicks fledge when they are 80 days old and stay near the colony.


  • Leopard Seals and Killer Whales while in the sea.
  • Skuas, Gulls and Striated Caracaras steal eggs and chicks mostly from the nests on the outer edges of the colony.

Interesting Facts

  • Gentoos are the shyest of all the penguins. Pointing their bills downward and backing off is their not very effective way of defending their nests. Any substantial disturbance could frighten the birds, leaving the eggs or chicks vulnerable to predators. © All rights reserved.

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