Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happy Penguin Awareness Day!

International Penguin Awareness Day is today, Wednesday, January 20. This is a big deal for us because we happen to have a prominent, popular and important penguin colony with nearly 90 birds of three different species.

Besides the demands of caring for these marine birds, our penguin biologists also run a successful breeding program as part of each species’ survival plans. The Aquarium has hatched dozens of chicks behind the scenes and we have shipped dozens of birds to many different institutions to support healthy breeding programs all around North America.

Rockhopper penguins

Below are some stats that might help build a better profile of the Aquarium’s penguins and the significant challenges facing penguins in the wild.

  • Number of penguins at the Aquarium — 89
  • Number of species at the Aquarium — Three (African, rockhopper and little blue)
  • Pounds of fish consumed by Aquarium penguins every day — 50
  • Number of continents the Aquarium's species are from — Three (Africa, South America and Australia) 
  • Number of Aquarium's full-time penguin biologists — Four
  • Number of volunteers and interns in the exhibit each week — 30–40
  • Minimum height for humans to work in the Aquarium's penguin pool — 5'4" (due to the depth of the water in the exhibit)
Gentoo penguins in Antarctica | Photo: Brian Skerry
  • Number of continents where wild penguins can be found — Four (African, S. America, Australia and Antarctica)
  • Number of species found in Antarctica—Five (Only Emporers and Adélies live there year round, see pictures of penguin in Antarctica by global explorer Jo Blasi)
  • Number of species found in the tropics — One (Galapagos penguins)
  • Number of species found in the Northern Hemisphere — Zero (so you can forget those polar bear/penguin photo ops)
  • Number of penguin species worldwide — 18
  • Number of penguin species vulnerable or endangered — 11, with seven vulnerable and four endangered
African penguin at the Aquarium
  • Estimated African penguin population in 1910 — 1,500,000
  • Estimated African penguin population in 2000 — 200,000
  • Estimated African penguin population in 2010 — 55,000
  • Estimated year African penguins go extinct in the wild — 20??
  • African penguin population at the Aquarium — 48
  • Life expectancy of an African penguin in the wild — 10–20 years
  • Oldest African penguin at the Aquarium — Alfred, 39 years old
Little blue penguin at the Aquarium
  • Height of smallest penguin species — 1 foot, little blue penguins from Australia
  • Height of tallest penguin species — 4 feet, emperor penguins from Antarctica
Little blue penguin chick named Fox, hatched at the Aquarium in 2015
  • Number of penguins hatched at the Aquarium since 1970 — 111
  • Number of penguins sent to other Aquarium for breeding since 2001 — 28

AEWA the African penguin

Now that you're armed with a whole slew of penguin facts, come impress your friends during a visit to the New England Aquarium this week!


  1. Since childhood, I wanted to see the penguins. Fortunately, my colleagues gave me a tour and I was in the expedition. Such a large amount of snow and ice, I have never seen before. And of course, I did a lot of funny photos of penguins and bought the souvenir for my son a. It was a small stone statuette penguin.


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