15 Interesting Facts About the Emperor Penguin

January 28, 2009 / 11 Comments

Who is the sovereign ruler of the penguin empire? The emperor penguin, of course, is the only animal on earth that doesn’t leave Antarctica’s open ice in the dead of winter or any other time for that matter. Known as the elegant bird with the funny walk, there are interesting facts you probably never knew about the emperor penguin. Here’s our take …

emperor penguin 1 15 Interesting Facts About the Emperor Penguin

  1. The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all known penguins. They reach up to 122 cm in height and weigh anywhere from 22 to 45kg. Heavier than that, they are put on a strict diet.
  2. Though it’s considered a bird and has wings – highest feather density of any bird species, it cannot fly. Sneaking up behind one allows it to wish it could fly, however …
  3. The emperor penguin is a great traveler. Every year, adults take exhausting journeys to mate and feed their offspring. Kind of like parents of all species, no?
  4. Must be a great lover, too. They manage to breed in the coldest environment possible with air temperatures reaching -40 °C. Well, if I lived in that cold a place I’d want to snuggle with someone, too and not be blamed for the consequences.
  5. The female emperor lays one single egg and then leaves for the sea to feed.
  6. During the incubation period, the male emperors prove to be great babysitters. Their job is to keep the egg warm.
  7. The Emperor Penguin chick is typically covered with silver-grey down and has a black head and white mask. They don’t get their tuxedos till a bit later on.
  8. To escape wind and conserve warmth, the Emperor Penguins huddle together. Once it has warmed, others will take its place moving to the inside of the group. They learn to share like this in penguin kindergarten.
  9. An Emperor Penguin can hold its breath anywhere up to 20 minutes, and dive over 550 meters (1,800 ft).
  10. Emperor Penguins rely only on vocal calls for individual recognition between parents, offspring, and mates.
  11. Used to the cold, at over 20 °C the emperor penguin becomes agitated and lifts its wings to expose more parts of the body. Well, when I get warm, I want to show my body parts, too…but I refrain.
  12. When they’re not tobogganing – sliding over the ice on its belly, the Emperor Penguin walks with a wobbling gait or proves its swimming talents (its average swimming speed is 6–9 km/h). That’s faster than I can run.
  13. Emperor penguins feed on fish, squid, krill and crustaceans, except when they violate number one above.
  14. They can only be found in the Southern Hemisphere.
  15. The emperor penguin’s enemies are the killer whales, leopard seals, and walrus.

And just to make the facts even more interesting, here’s an amazing pictures gallery. It’s an amazing bird, no?

All images copyright to Martha de Jong-Lantink.
Check out her amazing trip to Antarctica from 2007.


  • http://n/a Mary D

    If Emperor Penquins live in the Antarctic and Walruses live in the Arctic, how come Walruses are an enemy of Emperor Penguins?

  • reilly

    Good, but what makes the emperor penguin UNIQUE?

  • lora horine

    thank you very much your site helped me on a science project about emperor penguins.:D

  • rory q

    thank you your site is really good

  • Collin Dean

    omg me 2 rory Q

  • http://www.booble.com dildo6

    sg likky bluw waffle

  • NLC

    Can u put moree???? ?

  • holly

    these are really good facts!

  • sarah

    Hello my name is Sarah and i would like to ask you some questions about emperor penguins.

    My first question is…why doesn’t the male want to give the chick back once the female returns? Does he get attached?

    Why do the females take months to get back? why don’t they come back after the eat?

    Are there “special” places where they go to mate? How many times will they go back?

    Do they stay with they same “partner”? Or do they choose a different one every time?

    Thank you so much!
    ~sarah

  • Unknown

    I didn’t know some of those facts!
    I had to do a report on Emperor Penguins and I didn’t know much of that either!

  • misbah

    thanks! this really helped me with a school project!