50 Amazing Emperor Penguin Facts Your Kids Will Love (2022)

Emperor Penguin front view.
World Penguin Day is celebrated every day in April.

Monday, April 25th is World Penguin Day, a perfect day to learn something new about these amazing birds.

Here are 50 fun facts about the incredible Emperor Penguin:

1. The scientific name for an Emperor Penguin is Aptenodytes Forsteri.

2. The Emperor Penguin stands 45 inches tall.

That’s about as tall as a six year old human!

3. Emperor Penguins grow to be three times the size of the smallest penguin (the Little Blue Penguin).

4. The Emperor Penguin is the largest penguin of all 18 different species of penguins.

That means Emperor Penguins are actually larger, taller, and heavier than King Penguins.

5. The emperor penguin is the only animal to inhabit the open ice of Antarctica during the winter. 

6. Emperor Penguins live their entire lives in the southern hemisphere in Antarctica.

They face a very harsh climate there, bearing wind chills as cold as -76°F (colder than your freezer!) and blizzards with winds of up to 124 mph. That’s faster than most cars can drive.

Would you want to live on the Antarctic continent?

7. An Emperor Penguin has four layers of feathers and a thick layer of blubber that keeps them warm.

The feathers actually provide a waterproof coat. Kind of like your rain coat!

8. Emperor Penguins can store large amounts of fat that serve as an energy source for them and keeps them warm.

Their body can be up to 30% fat!

9. Emperor Penguins weigh up to 88 pounds.

That’s as much as a baby hippopotamus or two SUV tires!

10. Emperor Penguins for large groups. Each group of penguins is called a colony.

A group of Emperor Penguins is called a colony.
A group of Emperor Penguins is called a colony.

11. A colony of Emperor Penguins is so huge that it can be seen from space using satellite technology!

12. A male Emperor Penguin is called a ‘cock’.

13. A female Emperor Penguin is called a ‘hen’.

14. A baby Emperor Penguin is called a ‘chick’ or ‘hatchling’.

15. Adult Emperor Penguins have a white stomach and a black head, back, tail and wings. They have yellow-gold markings on the side of their head and neck.

16. Emperor Penguins are considered birds, but they do not fly.

We call them “flightless birds”.

17. Emperor Penguin can recycle their own body heat because their arteries and veins are close together.

18. Emperor Penguins either shuffle along the ice, using strong claws for grip, or they slide on their bellies pushing with their feet.

That would sure be fun!

19. Emperor Penguins can swim at a speed of up to 7.6 miles per hour. That’s faster than Olympic champion Michael Phelps!

Their bodies are aerodynamic and they have strong flippers, making them excellent swimmers. How fast can you swim?

20. Emperor Penguins dive deeper than any other bird, as deep as 1850 feet. That’s almost half a mile!

Emperor Penguin swimming underwater.
Emperor Penguins can hold their breath under water for up to 22 minutes.

21. Emperor Penguins can stay underneath the water’s surface for more than 20 minutes.

How long can you hold your breath under water?

22. Emperor Penguins are carnivores, which means they eat meat.

Do you like eating meat, too?

23. Emperor Penguins like to hunt and eat small fish (especially Antarctic Silverfish), krill and squid.

Do you eat fish, too?

24. Emperor Penguins have a rough, spiky tongue that helps them catch their prey.

What texture is your tongue?

25. Emperor Penguins eat about one pound of food per day.

To compare, humans usually eat about 3-4 pounds of food per day.

26. Only one out of every three penguins will make it to their first birthday because they will be eaten by seabirds such as giant petrels or skuas, leopard seals, and killer whales.

27. Every Winter, Emperor Penguins travel 50 miles across the ice to find stable breeding grounds. This is where they will have their babies.

It would take you at least 17 hours to walk 50 miles.

28. To court a female penguin, a male Emperor Penguin will swing their head side to side, raise their flippers and heads, and do a fancy walk.

29. Emperor Penguins are monogamous during each breeding season, which means they stay with the same partner to raise their child. Some pairs even stay together the next breeding season.

30. Female Emperor Penguins lay just one single egg each breeding season. 

An Emperor Penguin chick is kept warm by its mother.
An Emperor Penguin’s egg hatches in May or June.

31. The egg of en Emperor Penguin is thick, shaped like a pear, and it is a green-white color.

32. An Emperor Penguin’s egg hatches in May or early June.

When is your birthday?

33. One an Emperor Penguin’s egg is hatches, the female travels a long way back to the open water to get food.

34. The male penguins keep the eggs safe and warm with their own bodies to protect the eggs from the harsh cold and wind.

What do you do protect yourself from cold winter weather?

35. Male Emperor Penguins balance the egg on their feet and cover it with a warm layer called a brood pouch.

36. Male Emperor Penguins protect the egg for two months in the coldest, harshest weather on Earth, not eating anything the entire time.

37. To stay warm during this time, the male Emperor Penguins huddle together in groups.

38. Emperor Penguins take turns being on the inside of the huddle and being on the outside of the huddle. It’s warmer inside and colder on the outside.

By working together this way, each penguin helps the whole group.

39. When female Emperor Penguins return after their long journey, they regurgitate (throw up!) their foot for the little baby penguins to eat.

Does this seem surprising to you?

40. Sometimes a female Emperor Penguin might lose their chick, or they might not find a male penguin to partner with.

Females who have lost their chick may try to steal chicks or adopt abandoned chicks.

Emperor Penguins courting during breeding season.
Emperor Penguins are monogamous during each breeding season.

41. After female Emperor Penguins return, the males leave the family to return to the open seas to hunt for fish.

They’re probably very hungry after all of this time!

42. When Emperor Penguin chicks are a just a few months old, they leave their mother and stay in groups of young penguins called crèches.

43. Emperor Penguins are considered near threatened according to the IUCN Red List.

44. The average lifespan of Emperor Penguins in the wild is about 15-20 years.

However, they can live up to 50 years in captivity. That’s pretty darn old!

45. Emperor Penguins face a threat due to the rising temperatures associated with global warming.

As the ice melts, there are less places for them to breed.

46. Emperor Penguins also face a threat due to human overfishing.

They are not able to find enough food to eat.

47. There are 200,000 breeding pairs of Emperor Penguins left in the world.

48. Some scientist predict that the population of Emperor Penguins will decline rapidly in the next 75 years due to climate change.

49. While you might love to have an Emperor Penguin as a pet, it is actually illegal to keep wild exotic bird species like Emperor Penguins as a pet.

Guess you’ll have to stick with a dog!

50. Emperor Penguins are not dangerous.

However, if humans intrude on their nests, they will nip and bite to protect themselves.

Two Emperor Penguin mothers with her chicks.
Emperor Penguins are considered “near threatened”.

How To Help Penguins

You can help Emperor Penguins by doing your part to reduce carbon emission. For example, you can walk and bike in sled of driving and buy locally grown produce. To learn more tips, see StopGlobalWarming.org.

Another great way to help Emperor Penguins is to donate to charities to help preserve their habitats. You can also adopt an Emperor Penguin through WWF.

How to Draw an Emperor Penguin

A great way to celebrate World Penguin Day is to draw an Emperor Penguin! Here is a video of how to do that.

Where can you find penguins in Wisconsin?

Stop by the Milwaukee County Zoo to visit their Penguin Exhibit and meet the three penguin species in its collection: The Gentoo Penguin and the Rockhopper Penguin, located in the Antarctic habitat in the Aviary, and Humboldt penguins, a South American species, located in an outdoor habitat near the Zoo’s main entrance.

Very few Zoos have Emperor Penguins because they need ice to live on. In addition, since they are social, they live best in large colonies. 

We hope you enjoyed these fun penguin facts for International Penguin Day! Penguins are truly amazing animals, and we hope this list made you love them even more.


Animal Fact Guide

National Geographic


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