Humboldt penguin

(Spheniscus humboldti)


Weight: Up to 4kg
Height: 65–70cm

Penguins breed at 2 years and can live for up to 30 years in captivity (around 20 in the wild).

Coastal habitats in Peru and Chile (although they have also been found in Colombia), on the Pacific coast of South America.

Adults feed close to shore, taking various species of small fish (including anchovy and sardines), squid and crustaceans. Most foraging is done at depths of up to 60m.

Humboldt Penguins are social animals and live in large colonies of closely spaced burrows where communication becomes quite important. Penguin couples are able to recognize one another and their offspring through a combination of appearance and voice.

Bird Facts

  • Adult penguins have been known to migrate as far as 700 km to breeding grounds and may travel 35km to find food whilst rearing chicks.
  • Penguin chicks have fluffy grey plumage which is white underneath and allows them to keep a constant temperature. This enables both parents to go off to forage for food.
  • Humboldt Penguins usually remain faithful to one partner (unless that partner dies) and also return to the same breeding site year after year.
  • They have been known to dive down to 150m to find food.
  • Using their strong wings as flippers, Humboldts ‘fly’ underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.
  • The life of a Humboldt Penguin is a treacherous one. Threats include being eaten by gulls, vultures, foxes, wild dogs, whales and dolphins. Over-fishing, guano harvesting (for fertiliser), becoming trapped in fishing nets, eggs being stolen and the climatic effects of El Niño are other environmental hazards for them.
  • Humboldt Penguins have a gland which enables them to drink salt water in addition to fresh water; this gland concentrates excess salt which then dribbles down the bill.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens