Last month, audiences were practically tripping over their own two feet rushing to see Happy Feet Two. We just can’t seem to get enough of these charming penguins. Sure, they’re always dressed to the nines, and they star in some of the best videos on YouTube—but there are plenty more reasons to fall head over flippers for penguins:
- They give Michael Phelps a run for his money. Gentoo penguins make up to 450 dives a day foraging for food. They can dive as deep as 655 feet and stay underwater for seven minutes.
- Emperor penguins aren’t just great at working together to get the job done—their excellent teamwork skills are what keep them alive in the harsh Antarctic winter. Emperors huddle tightly together to conserve warmth, and each individual takes a turn going to the toasty middle of the circle and then to the perimeter to help others enjoy protection from the cold.
- Penguin dads step up to the plate. Male Adélie penguins help their mates build nests and then take turns sitting on the eggs to keep them warm and safe from predators.
- King penguins returning from a foraging trip at sea can find their chick in a crowd of 50,000 young penguins just by listening for his or her voice.
- Penguins are faithful. Rockhopper penguins (who win the “Best Hair” award hands down) usually pair with the same mating partner year after year.
Many penguin species are in decline, partly because of overfishing by humans of the fish they rely on for food. By leaving cod and other fish off our plates, we can help our tuxedo-clad pals while lessening our risk of developing health issues.
By Robert Fry