National Aviary – Penguin Encounter

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) at NA by Lee

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) by Dome at NA by Lee

The National Aviary’s Penguin Point area is home to Stanley, Elvis, Patrick, Simon, Sidney, Preston, Dotty, Kristen, TJ, and Rainbow. At least that is the names of the ones listed on the African Penguin page. We enjoyed taking pictures of them, but did not figure out who was who. The area has a dome that sticks up and you can make your way to it and look at the penguins up “close and personal.” Of course, I had to go check it out. Even caught Dan taking pictures of the penguins while I was inside looking out.

National Aviary Meet a patient - Jamie-Vet Tech with leg cast

Meet a patient – Jamie-Vet Tech with leg cast

They have several penguin feeding times during the day and a penguin talk – to learn more about the penguins. In the Penguin Point Vestibule they have a “Meet a Patient” talk by one of the “bird medical” staff. There you are told about one of the patients in their hospital. Jamie, the Veterinarian Technician was telling about one of the ducks. He showed a cast used for a broken leg. Unfortunately, we missed most of the talk and only got in on the last part of his presentation.

The African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus), which they have at the Aviary, are the only penguins that breed in Africa. They are also known as Black-footed Penguins. Their home is on the “south-western coast of Africa, living in colonies on 24 islands between Namibia and Algoa Bay, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with the largest colony on Dyer Island, near Kleinbaai. Because of their donkey-like braying call they were previously named Jackass Penguins. Since several species of South American penguins produce the same sound, the African species has been renamed African Penguin, as it is the only penguin species that breeds in Africa. The presence of the penguin gave name to the Penguin Islands.” (Wikipedia)

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) at NA by Lee

African Penguin from inside the dome at NA by Lee

African Penguins are 68-70 cm (26.7-27.5in) tall and weigh 2-5 kg or 4.4-11 lbs. “They have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints. They have pink glands above their eyes. The hotter the penguin gets, the more blood is sent to these glands so it may be cooled by the surrounding air, thus making the glands more pink. The males are larger than the females and have larger beaks, but their beaks are more pointed than those of the Humboldt. Their distinctive black and white colouring is a vital form of camouflage–white for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators looking down onto the dark water.” (Wikipedia) Our Creator has provided a built-in air conditioner and protection for them.

I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. (Psalms 50:11 KJV)

At one time the African Penguin population had 1.5 million members, but because of threats such as egg gathering, or egg smashing, taking their burrowing material for fertilizer, oil spills and other threats, the number was only 10% of that by 2000. The natural predators include “sharks, cape fur seals and, on occasion, orcas. Land-based enemies include mongoose, genet, domestic cats and dogs – and the kelp gulls which steal their eggs and new born chicks. I don’t know for a fact, but their decline to a “vulnerable species” is probably why they are at the National Aviary and also the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida (we saw some there also). They are trying to protect and breed them.

How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end. (Jeremiah 12:4 KJV)

African Penguins are in the  Spheniscidae Family of the Sphenisciformes Order. They are the only family in the Order and have 19 species of penguins.

See Also:

Ian’s Bird of the Week – African Penguin

Interesting Things – Why Birds Don’t Wear Socks

Here are the pictures we took of the penguins at the National Aviary.

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Information from Wikipedia and National Aviary website.


(Spheniscus demersus)

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