Description: The African Penguin has a black cap, face, nape, back, and tail. The wings and feet are also black. The African Penguin has white underparts and a white throat separated by a black stripe across the breast. It also has prominent white stripes that extend from the neck in a crescent shape to an area above the eye and other white stripes that extend vertically from the feet to the flippers. Finally, the African Penguin has pink glands above the eyes that help in cooling the penguin on warmer days.
African Penguins stand about 27 inches in height and weigh up to 11 pounds. Males are larger than females.
Diet: The African Penguin eats various types of small fish.
Range: The African Penguin is restricted to the southwest coast of Africa, where it breeds on 24 different islands. The largest colony is located on Dyer Island.
Nesting: African Penguins nest between the months of February and August. Females lay two eggs after an incubation period of about 40 days. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs in shifts that last between one and three days. When the chicks hatch, the parents will continue to protect them and keep them warm for about 40 days. Young African Penguins venture to the sea after about three months.
Status: Populations of African Penguins have been reduced over the past few decades because of egg hunting and guano collection. In addition, the species is extremely vulnerable to oil spills. Over 19,000 African Penguins were covered in oil after a tanker spill in 2000 in Capetown Harbor, South Africa. Thousands of volunteers rushed to Capetown to participate in a volunteer effort to save as many penguins as possible. In addition, over 20,000 unoiled penguins had to be removed from their habitat to ensure their safety. After three months, 91 percent of the oiled penguins were successfully cleaned and returned to the wild. The effort was the largest animal rescue event in history and one of the most successful. Today, there are about 56,000 breeding pairs of African Penguins. The figure represents an estimated 10 percent of its former levels.