Celebrating World Penguin Day with Eight Species of Penguin

April 25, 2022

World Penguin Day is the perfect time to celebrate some of our favorite animals in our care!

SeaWorld parks are home to hundreds of penguins across 8 different species, and each have their own unique quirks. In SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica exhibit, you can find King, Adélie, Chinstrap, Rockhopper, and Gentoo penguins amongst the brood. The exhibit is unique in that the lighting and temperatures are on an actual Antarctic cycle so the penguins feel right at home. You can also see Magellanic penguins in a different behind-the-scenes tour. They are kept separate from the others because they require warmer temperatures, given their South American roots.

At SeaWorld San Antonio, you can visit with King, Chinstrap, Rockhopper, and Gentoo penguins. There’s actually a well-known pair of male Gentoos who have fostered two different penguin chicks over the last few years. The pair had been observed sitting on the eggs, helping them to hatch, and feeding and caring for the chicks. Both chicks this pair has fostered have been from a different penguin species. Teamwork truly is a theme with these two!

Over in SeaWorld San Diego, you can spot six different species: King, Adélie, Chinstrap, Gentoo, Macaroni, and Emperor penguins. In fact, SeaWorld San Diego’s Penguin Encounter exhibit is the only place in North America where you can see Emperors. They are also at risk for returning to the endangered list as a “threatened” species due to climate change.

Below are some of our favorite characteristics of the species in our care:

  • As the largest of all penguin species, Emperors don’t actually build nests for their eggs. Instead, the male will stand upright and incubate a single egg on the top of his feet under a loose patch of skin from his abdomen. Males are also known to fast throughout courtship, nesting, and incubation periods. In other words: they need to look their best for the ladies.
  • Gentoo penguins are the third largest species of penguin. They are also very smart swimmers; during deep dives into the water, they can reduce their heart rate down from 80-100 bpm to 20bpm. They would definitely beat us in a swimming contest.
  • Adélie penguins may be classified as little thieves. They’ve been known to steal stones from the nests of rival breeding pairs. Talk about bad, nosy neighbors!
  • The smallest of the crested penguins, Rockhoppers are known for – you guessed it – jumping from rock to rock. Pretty aptly named if we do say so ourselves.
  • Don’t let their red eyes and crazy “hair” (aka head feathers) scare you. Macaroni penguins are actually quite interesting! They get their name from early English explorers who called a young man wearing flashy feathers in his hat “Macaroni”.
  • Chinstrap penguins, named for the distinguishing black stripes under their chins, can reach depths of about 230 feet when diving. That’s longer than the Leaning Tower of Pisa – which stands at 186ft tall for comparison.
  • Time waits for no man, but it certainly waits for the King penguin! These “royal” guys walk very slowly and have a strict no hopping policy. Make sure you don’t ever get stuck behind them in line.
  • Magellanic penguins were named after Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan upon their discovery in 1520. Unpaired males are actually known for making a braying sound (yes, like a donkey) when looking for a mate. Bet the mated pairs need earplugs.