Gentoo Penguin

(Pygoscelis papua)




Facts about this animal

The Gentoo is a medium-sized penguin standing from 51 to 75 cm tall and with a body-weight of 5 to 6.2 kg. The upper parts, chin and throat are dark slate-grey, and there is a triangular white patch above each eye usually extending over the top of the head. There are scattered white spots on head and neck. The under parts are white.y and have a relatively long tail. Juveniles have smaller, less distinct white patches and sometimes a grey throat. The bill is black with sides orange in males and pinkish-orange in females, the feet are orange.

Gentoo penguins breed in colonies, which rarely comprise of more than a few hundred pairs. They build rudimentary nests from stones, sticks, grass, feathers, or any other material they find suitable for the purpose. The female lays two eggs of about 130 g, which are incubated by both parents for about 34 days. The young chicks remain in the nest for about 3 to 4 weeks. During this period both parents brood the chicks alternately, feeding the chicks and changing over on a daily basis. Adults usually set out to forage in the early morning, returning later the same day, and foraging generally occurs within 20km of the breeding site. The time spent foraging increases as chicks get larger, and their demand for food gets greater.

After the brood period, the chicks will form large crèches, allowing both parents to collect food to meet the ever increasing demand. Their plumage has now similar markings to the adult plumage, except that the dark areas are a browny-grey rather than slate, and there is no white head patch yet.

Gentoo penguins generally forage close to shore. They may make as many as 450 dives during a single days foraging. They are opportunistic feeders, and around the Falklands are known to take roughly equal proportions of fish and squid.

Did you know?
that penguins have denser feathers than most other bird species? They have as many as 12 feathers per cm². These feathers are spaced very closely and tufted with down on the shafts to help keep the penguins warm.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Pygoscelis papua
Name (English) Gentoo Penguin
Name (French) Manchot papou
Name (German) Eselpinguin
Name (Spanish) Pingüino de pico rojo
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka



Range Antarctica and subantarctic regions: Argentina, Australia, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Southern Territories (Crozet Is., Kerguelen), Heard Island and McDonald Islands, South Africa (Marion-Prince Edward Is.), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Vagrants in New Zealand and Saint Helena
Habitat Subantarctic grasslands, coasts, ocean
Wild population More than 314,000 pairs (1993) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 604 specimens reported to ISIS (2008).

In the Zoo

Gentoo Penguin


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 22 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka

Why do zoos keep this animal

The gentoo penguin is currently not yet threatened with extinction. Zoos keep gentoo penguins therefore primarily for educational purposes to demonstrate how the birds adapted to arctic and maritime conditions and thus became able to expand their range into the seas and the south polar zone. Of course the gentoo penguin is also an excellent ambassador for its ecosystem and may serve as a flagship species for campaigns or educational programmes raising awareness about Global Warming.