Humboldt Penguin

(Spheniscus humboldti)


Humboldt Penguin IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

Humboldts are medium-sized penguins, about 58 to 65 cm long and weighing about 4 kgs. In adults, the head is black, except for a white stripe on each side of crown meeting with the white upper breast. The bill is black with a grey transverse bar and prominent fleshy margins at the base. The iris is reddish-brown, and there is a pink ring around the eye. The upperparts of body and flippers are blackish-grey, the underparts mostly white with black band on breast extending down flank to thigh. Upperside of flippers with whitish trailing edge. The legs and feet are black with splotchy pink patches.


Females are slightly smaller than males, but otherwise look very similar. Humboldts penguins have developed a unique place to lay their eggs - they dig them into the layers of dried guano left from seabirds. Sometimes they also nest in rocky crevices. The birds breed throughout the year, though breeding seems to depend on the availability of food and nesting sites. The male arrives at a site a few days before the female and prepares the nest burrow. He uses his wings and feet to push and mold the guano into the shape he wants, then gathers soil, rocks, and sometimes grasses to finish it off.

Did you know?
that all penguins live south of the equator, from the icy waters of Antarctica to the tropical Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, almost astride the equator?


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Spheniscus humboldti
Name (English) Humboldt Penguin
Name (French) Manchot de Humboldt
Name (German) Humboldtpinguin
Name (Spanish) Pingüino de Humboldt
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Appendix I



Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka



Range Chile, Peru
Habitat On rocky coasts and islands with suitable terrain for constructing nest burrows.
Wild population Peru: 5'000 (2004), Chile: 9'000 (2002)
Zoo population 2'589 reported to ISIS (2009)

In the Zoo

Humboldt 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 Humboldt's penguin is rated vulnerable and populations do not exceed 12'000 individuals. Zoos therefore engage in cooperative conservation breeding with a view of maintaining a viable ex situ reserve population that makes up a siginificant percentatge of all extant Humboldt penguins. The zoo birds fulfil also an educational and ambassadorial role. Several zoos keeping the species support in situ conservation projects.