How is the emperor penguin a survivor?

If there was an award for survival of an animal in an extreme environment, it would certainly go to the emperor penguin. These birds spend their entire life in the Antarctic, facing chill winds as cold as minus 60 degree centigrade and blizzards blowing at 200 km/h!

The emperor penguin is a distinctive bird. It has a black head and back, pale yellow breast and ear patches and a white belly. Considered the tallest and heaviest of all penguin species, an adult bird is about 4 feet tall and weighs between 23 and 45 kg.

Emperor penguins are very social and live in large groups. These groups are cohesive and supportive and individuals help each other to stay warm in the brutal Antarctic winters. The whole group will huddle in a big circle, with the outer members of the circle moving inwards periodically to ensure that no penguin is exposed to the cold for too long. How’s that for teamwork?

Emperor penguins trek 50-120 km over the open ice to breeding colonies which can contain up to several thousand individuals. Penguins stay with the same partner for life. Females lay a single egg, which is handed over to the male. The mother then goes to the sea to feed. The father will incubate the egg in a special ‘brood pouch’ near his feet for 65 days. He will lose about 40 percent of his body weight during this time. The mother returns just before the chick hatches and feeds it with regurgitated fish from the sea. The father then goes to the sea to feed. In this way the parents take turns foraging at sea and caring for their chick. The lifespan of an emperor penguin is typically around 20 years in the wild.

The emperor penguin is severely affected by climate change and is listed under ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN’s Red List.

Picture Credit : Google

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