King Penguin

Aptenodytes patagonicus

Yikes! The King Penguin has had to come back to the Museum for Christmas. So if you are looking for him in the Covered Market he is no longer there. Very sorry about that. But if you're doing the trail and would like to enter the Competition, his Danger Rating is 5 and his Rarity Rating is 2.

Agile and quick in the water, King Penguins move clumsily when they come ashore to moult, find a partner, and produce a new crop of chicks. They often live in dense colonies which can contain tens of thousands of pairs, all squeezed tightly together.

Caring for their young is no easy matter for the King Penguin. They don’t build nests, but instead the male and female parents take turns to incubate a single egg by balancing it on their feet and covering it with a loose fold of skin. The remaining parent will then make a trip of up to 250 miles to search for food for this chick.

They brood the newborn penguin in the same way until it grows plumage thick enough to withstand the harsh elements. During this three-month period, the adults peck at all trespassers and predatory birds to protect the eggs and chicks. Researchers have observed that a King Penguin parent devotes four hours and 2,000 pecks a day to fighting off interlopers!

Listen to… Tom Hart, Oxford University Ocean Research & Conservation Group

Can’t see the player? Download the mp3 (448kb)

In 2013, while the Oxford University Museum of Natural History is closed to have the roof fixed, some of the exhibits have sneaked away to the town centre!
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