Proud Papa Penguins

With Father’s Day tomorrow, the Penguin Post just wanted to remind everyone what a special breed the male Emperor Penguin is.  If there’s anyone who deserves a Father’s Day present (or perhaps a dinner) it’s these wonderful waddling guys.


During the summer in the southern hemisphere – from about December to February – Emperor Penguins in Antarctica are at sea fattening up on squid, fish, and krill. As autumn approaches in March, the Emperors leave the water and begin a long trek many miles to one of several breeding colonies in Antarctica. There, they mate, and each female will produce a single egg.  She then meticulously transfers the egg to the male penguin where it delicately lays between his feet and lower belly to keep it warm and safe, then she leaves to spend winter in the open ocean feeding.


During Antarctica’s winter – a frigid, endless night four months long, male Emperor Penguins huddle by the hundreds in the snow where wind chills can reach -90 F.  The male penguins guard the eggs and keep them warm from the elements.  For 65 days, each penguin incubates an egg. He cradles it on top of his feet, covering it with a pouch of skin. The egg will usually hatch around the time the female returns, at which point their mid-winter vigil will end around August as the sun finally peeks over the horizon coinciding with the return of their female partners.

Young Penguin Chick With Dad

Young Penguin Chick With Dad

By the time the female Emperor returns, sleek and full of food, the male may have lost 45% of his body weight. Ravenously hungry, he leaves to feed at sea. Fed by the mother the Emperor offspring grow rapidly in summer, while dad is taking in a well deserved meal or three.  However, fear not. Dad, will return in a few weeks. reuniting the Emperor family to take his turn to feed the chick.


The male emperor penguin is the only species where this behavior is observed. By the time the egg hatches, the male will have fasted for around 115 days since arriving at the colony.  So, tomorrow raise a glass for the male Emperor Penguin.  The coolest dads in the world.

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