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Gentoo penguin

Pygoscelis papua


There are 17 species of penguin in the world. The gentoo penguin is the third largest member of the penguin family, after the emperor and king penguin and is the fastest underwater swimming bird. This penguin can reach speeds of up to 22.4 miles per hour.

All penguin species are found in the southern hemisphere. Gentoo penguins are found in the Falklands, South Georgia, Kerguelen, Marion, Macquarie and the Antarctic peninsula.

During breeding season, a nest of stones, grass and moss is constructed. The male presents the female penguin with a pebble and if she accepts they will mate.

Belfast Zoo’s penguin colony can be seen on their ‘pebble beach’ or you can admire their skills at the underwater viewing area. They share their area with our rockhopper penguins. 

We have a total of 41 gentoo penguins.

Animal class

Bird

Conservation status

Gentoo penguins are protected by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and received near threatened status on the IUCN Red List in 2007.

Habitat

Water

Population

The gentoo penguin population is increasing in Antarctica, but are declining in other areas.

Diet

Piscivore. The gentoo penguin eats small plankton, squid and fish.