Gentoo Penguin Fun Facts

Adult Gentoo Penguin on RockGentoo penguins live in Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, the Sandwich Islands, and South Georgia. They make their nests on rocky beaches and beach grasses. They prefer ice-free areas in an otherwise icy, frigid environment.

Gentoo penguins are the third largest penguins, after Emperors and Kings. They stand between two and three feet tall, with a long tail (for a penguin) which swishes side to side as they walk. They weigh between 10 and 20 pounds, depending on the time of year. Males and females are practically identical, although males tend to be just slightly heavier on average.

When foraging and hunting, gentoo penguins stay close to shore. They can dive down to 600 feet. They’re also the world’s fastest swimming birds, capable of reaching 22 miles per hours underwater. Gentoo penguins feed on small fish, crustaceans, and krill.


Adult and Baby PenguinsGentoo penguins are monogamous, and any penguin being unfaithful to their partner is banished from the colony. Pairs build a new nest every year, from stones and grasses. Unlike other penguins, who produce one eggs per year, gentoo penguins produce two. Furthermore, if the first clutch of eggs is lost, they are able to lay another two eggs to make up for the loss. The eggs are incubated for roughly a month. Both parents take turn incubating the eggs and, once they hatch, both parents feed the chicks.

Chicks stay in the nest for about a month’s time, after which they form a creche with other chicks, similar to other penguins. At 14 weeks, the chicks are beginning to fledge, meaning that they can begin to forage in the sea for their food. Until they are two years old, the age at which they are adults, gentoo penguins may return to their parents’ nest from time to time to eat.


Close-up Gentoo PenguinIn the water, gentoo penguins are preyed on by seals, sea lions, and orcas. On land, eggs and chicks are preyed on by other birds. Some populations of gentoo penguins have declined in recent years due to competition for their food sources with humans, though other populations have increased. The hunting of gentoo penguins is outlawed and, as of now, they are classified as of least concern for extinction.


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