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15 Facts (and Pictures!) That Prove Penguins Are the World’s Most Adorable Animals

Every day is a good day to appreciate these tuxedo-wearing birds.

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African Penguins
Mike Korostelev/Shutterstock

Nearly all penguins live in the southern hemisphere

Contrary to media representations of the North Pole, no penguins live up there. The 17 penguin species (some scientists say there are 20) are spread out between Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa. The only exception is the Galapagos penguins, who live close to the equator on the Galapagos Islands and occasionally venture into northern hemisphere waters. Find out some amazing animal species (including a penguin) that you can only find in one place in the world.

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Emperor Penguins with chick

Penguins have been around for a long time

An amateur fossil hunter discovered the bone of an extinct penguin ancestor, and scientists say it’s 61 million years old. That means it probably outlived the dinosaurs that went extinct 65.5 million years ago. Fossils also suggest that this prehistoric bird could fly and could grow up to five feet tall. Get to know the disturbing secrets about penguins that were hidden for a century.

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Penguins eat fish in the zoo

They eat a lot

Penguins are carnivores, and their diets consist of fish, krill, crabs, squid, and other sea creatures. According to Smithsonian Magazine, they can eat up to two pounds of food every day during summer months, but eat only a third of that during the winter. Don’t miss these adorable animal pictures that’ll make you say “aww.”

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Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) with open mouth
Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

They sneeze

Their sneezes serve an important purpose, though. Because they eat so much seafood, penguins also consume a lot of saltwater. To get rid of all that salt, their supraorbital glands above their eyes filter it out of the bloodstream, and then, the penguins excrete it through their bills or their sneezes.

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Little Blue Penguin in wildlife park, Australia

The littlest penguin may be the cutest

Little blue penguins (also called fairy penguins) really are little. They only grow to be 13-15 inches tall, and adults only weigh 2.6 pounds. These photos of baby wild animals will instantly brighten your day.

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Cute Emperor penguins, one standing one sliding on belly

Emperor penguins are the largest species

They’re almost 4 feet tall and can weigh up to 88 pounds.

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swimming penguin
prochasson frederic/Shutterstock

Penguins are expert swimmers

No, these adorable birds can’t fly. Instead, they use their wings to fly through the water (so to speak) at speeds up to 25 miles per hour.

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Gentoo Penguin walking on the Beach. Bertha's Beach. Falkland Islands.

They can’t help but waddle

Penguins’ bodies are shaped to easily glide through water, with a long body and short legs. So when they walk, the result is a clumsy-looking waddle. Penguins also get around on land by hopping and tobogganing, where they glide on their bellies and use their feet and wings to gain speed. You’ll want to check out these “facts” about animals you probably have wrong.

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Two Gentoo Penguins coming in from fishing. Falkland Islands.

They spend most of their time in the water

According to the National Ocean Service, penguins spend about 75 percent of their lives in water. They go on land to mate, lay eggs, and raise their babies. If these penguin photos make you giggle, you’ll love these hilarious bird photos.

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Emperor Penguin Chicks
Roger Clark ARPS/Shutterstock

Speaking of penguin babies…

They’re called chicks or nestlings. They form little groups called crèches to look out for predators and keep each other warm while their parents look for food.

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Sergey Uryadnikov/shutterstock

Penguins are romantic

Some penguin species mate for life, like the macaroni penguin. These guys and gals show their affection by performing an “ecstatic display,” in which they swing their heads back and forth and cackle loudly. Here are some other animals that mate for life, too.

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King Penguins, Aptenodytes patagonicus on Macquarie Island, Sub-antarctic Islands, Australia
Janelle Lugge/Shutterstock

Birds of a feather mate together

Most penguin species breed in large groups called colonies (only two species don’t) for protection. Those groups can range from a couple hundred to hundreds of thousands of penguins! Get a laugh from these hilarious real scientific names for groups of animals.

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An adult King Penguin incubates an egg within it's breeding colony.
Brandon B/Shutterstock

Daddy penguins keep their eggs warm

At least, male emperor penguins do, but not by sitting on them. These dads balance the eggs on their feet and covered them with feathered skin called a brood pouch. They stay like this for two months—without food and with no protection from the Antarctica weather—until the moms come back with food for the young ones. Talk about parents of the year!

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Group of king penguins swimming
Rich Lindie/Shutterstock

Their feathers keep them camouflaged

When penguins swim, their black backs keep them invisible from predators up above, and their white bellies blend into the bright sunlight coming through the waves. We bet your tuxedo can’t do that.

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The colony of Imperial penguins stands in the snow near the Iceberg. Shooting from the air. Sunny day. Antarctic.

Feathers also keep them warm

Penguins don’t have blubber like other sea animals, but their many feathers serve the same purpose. (In particular, emperor penguins have 100 feathers per square inch.) The feathers trap a layer of warm air next to their skin, and their surface feathers get colder than the surrounding air to keep their bodies warm. Keep the cuteness going with these adorable penguin photos that will melt your heart.