Who doesn’t love penguins?! Sure, they walk a little funny — but they are absolutely adorable, and we just want to give them a big hug!
Now that you know why penguins waddle, check out some facts we bet you didn’t know about these cute seabirds.
- Although they have wings and feathers, and are considered birds, penguins cannot fly.
- No one knows for certain where the name “penguin” comes from. Some say it’s from the Welsh “pen gwyn”, which means “white head.” Others argue it’s derived from the Latin “pinguis,” which means “fat.” And actually, the moniker was originally used for another type of bird, the auk, now extinct.
- Penguins use their feet and tails for steering and their flippers (wings) as propellers.
- They can walk long distances at steady speeds of about 2 mph, but if they become scared or angry, they can walk so fast that even keepers can’t catch them!
- Penguins often slide on their tummies over ice and snow. This is called tobogganing, and, according to researchers, penguins do this for fun and as an efficient way to travel.
- There are 17-20 penguin species, and all of them live in the Southern Hemisphere. That’s right! Contrary to what you may have heard, no penguins can be found on the North Pole.
- The Gentoo Penguin is the fastest penguin, swimming at speeds of up to 22 mph.
- Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but the salt water doesn’t make them sick. That’s because a special gland behind their eyes secretes the salt water, which is then expelled through their beaks or by sneezing. Penguins also swallow pebbles and stones with their food.
- Emperor Penguins can stay underwater for around 20 minutes at a time.
- Penguins have no land predators, like bears or wolves, to scare them away. That’s why they don’t feel fear around humans, either.