Natures royalty: King penguin

King penguin colony (Aptenodytes patagonicus), Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctic, Polar Regions
King penguin colony (Aptenodytes patagonicus), Gold Harbour, South Georgia, Antarctic, Polar Regions

The king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is the second largest species of penguin, smaller, but somewhat similar in appearance to the emperor penguin. There are two subspecies: A. p. patagonicus and A. p. hallipatagonicus is found in the South Atlantic and halli in the South Indian Ocean (at the Kerguelen Islands, Crozet Island, Prince Edward Islands and Heard Island and McDonald Islands) and at Macquarie Island


King penguins breed on subantarctic islands that are located slightly north of Antarctica, contrary to popular belief. They prefer to be near the sea and usually stay in areas without snow and ice like shores and valleys.

King Penguin Behaviour

The king penguin dives to depths of 100–300 meters (350–1000 feet), spending around five minutes submerged, during daylight hours, and less than 30 metres (98 ft) at night.

King penguins are like emperor penguins in that they do not build nests. Instead, the male and female take turns cradling their eggs on top of their feet and keeping young warm with a special flap of naked skin known as the brood pouch.

King Penguin Diet

King penguins are expert hunters and can eat up to 2,000 fish per day. They swim at speeds of six miles an hour using their flippers to chase after lanternfish and squid. They sometimes have to dive deeper than the height of the Eiffel Tower in search of prey, into a dark area known as the dysphotic or twilight zone. King penguins have excellent night vision which helps them hunt even during the day.


  • Name: King penguin
  • Scientific NameAptenodytes patagonicus
  • Class: Aves
  • Lifespan: 20 to 25 years
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Sub-Antarctic Islands



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