OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR & FREE

Location, Hours & Directions

OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR & FREE

Location, Hours & Directions

Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove

Open Daily
Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove

Animals

ID the Penguins

Who's who in the penguin colony at Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove? Download our cheat sheet to ID each of them during your visit.
Download the African Penguin Cheat Sheet (PDF 1.2 MB)

Suited for Swimming

African penguins flourish along the temperate southern coastline of the African continent thanks to special adaptations suited to a life at sea.

Flying Underwater

African penguins may be flightless above ground, but they “fly” up to 12 miles per hour underwater. Strong, flipper-like wings with fused bone structures propel their torpedo-shaped bodies forward while large, webbed feet and tails act as rudders and help steer.

Built-In Insulation

Penguins have an extremely high feather density. Short, lance-shaped and overlapping like roof shingles, feathers provide superb insulation in water and on land. Penguins waterproof them by using their beaks to apply an oily substance secreted from a gland at the base of their tail.

Dual-Purpose Camouflage

African penguins use their black-and-white plumage, called “countershading,” as camouflage when hunting fish or evading predators such as great white sharks and fur seals. Dark feathers on their backs are difficult to see underwater from above; pale front sides blend in with the lighter surface of the sea when viewed from below.

Deadly Divers

Bones denser and heavier than those of other birds help penguins use less energy when diving deep for fish, crustaceans or squid. They swallow prey underwater, using a tongue and palate covered with stiff spines that point backward to grip prey and move it along.

Beating the Heat

Unlike their Antarctic relatives, African penguins can overheat in their warmer, temperate climate. One way to cool down is to simply dive into the ocean. But African penguins also have bare patches of skin on their faces where blood circulates to dissipate heat. Additionally, they have special muscles that push their feathers outward, releasing trapped heat.

True or False

Learn more about African penguins... and test your knowledge!
Play

True or False

Penguins only live in Antarctica.

The Answer Is

False
Next Question  >
Penguins are also found in South America, Africa, New Zealand and Australia and on many islands surrounding Antarctica. Only two of the world’s 17 penguin species—king penguins and Adèlie penguins—spend their entire lives on the Antarctic continent.

True or False

African penguins are the only penguins that live in Africa.

The Answer Is

True
Next Question  >
African penguins are the only penguin species that breeds in Africa. They inhabit more than 20 islands and three mainland beach sites along the southwestern coast of Africa in Namibia and South Africa.

True or False

Only female African penguins incubate eggs.

The Answer Is

False
Next Question  >
Both male and female parents help incubate eggs. They both have a bare patch of skin, called a brood patch, which transfers their body heat more efficiently to the eggs as they incubate.

True or False

African penguins are colonial breeders.

The Answer Is

True
Next Question  >
They gather in groups called colonies that can include thousands of breeding pairs. Pairs are monogamous, often for many years, and return to the same nest site each year to build nests in burrows made from rock, sand or vegetation.

True or False

Penguins have waterproof feathers.

The Answer Is

True
Next Question  >
Penguins use their bills to spread an oily substance, secreted by a gland near the base of the tail, all over their bodies. They preen themselves and each other to help maintain this waterproof layer.

True or False

African penguins make a call that sounds similar to a donkey’s bray.

The Answer Is

True
Next Question  >
African penguins are commonly called jackass penguins for the loud, donkey-like calls individuals use to communicate. “Yells” are used to defend territory. “Brays” are used between mating partners or to attract a mate. “Haws” are used by mating partners separated between sea and land.

True or False

Penguins use camouflage to protect themselves from predators.

The Answer Is

True
Next Question  >
African penguins use their black-and-white plumage as camouflage when hunting fish or evading predators. Dark feathers on their backs are difficult to see underwater from above. Pale front sides blend in with the lighter surface of the sea when viewed from below.

True or False

African penguin populations have increased over the past 20 years.

The Answer Is

False
Conclusion  >
The population of the African penguin has declined to the point where the species is considered endangered in the wild.

Conclusion

The Association for Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has named the African Penguin one of their SAFE species. AZA zoos are working with conservation partners in South Africa to develop an African Penguin Biodiversity Management Plan. This initiative aims to support African penguin recovery by monitoring migration patterns, designing artificial nests, preventing disease outbreaks and more.

Play Again

360 View of Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove

What do the penguins see from the heart of their exhibit? Pretend you’re a penguin—drag the screen to get the African penguin point of view!

Logo

Sign Up for ZooMail Weekly

Get the latest on upcoming events, new arrivals and more!

All Content © Lincoln Park Zoo.

2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 • 312-742-2000

2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 Get Map/Directions Call 312-742-2000