When you think of penguins, you probably picture Antarctic penguins living among snow and ice. But there’s also a lesser-known penguin species called the African penguin. Like its name suggests, this animal lives in southern Africa, where the climate is hot and dry.
African penguins live in groups called colonies along the shores of southern Africa and its islands. They build their nests out of guano, or their droppings. The penguins’ nests protect their eggs from predators like cats and seagulls and from the hot, hot sun. Mother African penguins lay eggs, and the penguin fathers help take care of them.
The African penguin has a white belly and black back. Its white belly blends in with the light of the Sun, while its black back camouflages against dark seas. This helps the animal go unnoticed by deadly predators.
The African penguin eats small fish, like anchovies and sardines, to get nutrition. They have webbed feet and short tails that help them move through the water quickly to reach and capture their prey.
The average lifespan of an African penguin is 10-15 years. Over the past few decades, the population of African penguins has decreased due to human action. Not only have humans overfished the penguins' food supply, but they have also removed guano from and polluted the penguins’ habitat. Because of these threats, African penguins often don’t get enough food and die of starvation. Today, they are officially classified as an endangered species.
African penguins are very different from other penguins because of their uniquely hot habitat. Researchers hope to preserve this special species in the future.