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Where to see Penguins in Melbourne
- Wednesday 20th March 2019
Penguins rock; with their winning waddle, they’re the kind of creature you can watch for hours. If your kids are obsessed with Pingu or Mumble, come and see some real-life penguins! As some of SEA LIFE Melbourne’s favourite residents, here are five facts about these black and white birds you can share with your penguin-preoccupied kids.
1. To Fly or Not to Fly
Do penguins fly? They’ve got wings, right? We know penguins as flightless birds, but there’s a belief they could once fly. Over time, their bodies have adapted to become the darting and diving super-swimmers you see today. The fact is, flying didn’t work out for our pals – being the planet’s fastest-swimming, deepest-diving bird species was more their style.
2. Share the Load
In the majority of animal species, the lion’s share of parenting falls to the female. While most of the Mums are at home, protecting and caring for their offspring, Dads are out finding food. But, when it comes to the forward-thinking Emperor penguins, the roles are reversed. While the female looks for food, the male sits on the egg to incubate it. Incredibly, it’s also the male penguin who feeds the chick with a milky substance which he produces from his stomach.
3. Dressed for Success
Looking Slick! While they’re known for their dinner-suit colouring, there’s more to their markings than being black-tie ready. Apart from giving them James Bond swagger, their colouring is mainly for camouflage. When hungry predators look down, a penguin’s black back blends with the deep ocean. When predators look up, their white belly blends with the bright surface. These colourings save them from becoming a leopard seal’s lunch.
4. Not so Small and Slow
When you think penguins, does little and cute come to mind? While they’re always adorable, they’re not always small. The Emperor penguin weighs in at up to 41 kilograms, and can grow up to 1.3 metres tall – the height of an average 8-year-old! The smallest are the Little Blue penguins, which only reach 40.5 centimetres. Much speedier than they look, the Gentoo penguin can swim up to 36km per hour. King penguins may be the second tallest species, but when they’re on land, they like to take their time and don’t hop.
5. Fleeing Feathers
Have you ever pictured a bald penguin? These birds don’t do things in halves; when they lose their feathers, they lose them all at once. Instead of gradually losing their coat, they experience a ‘catastrophic molt,’ which is as weird and dramatic as it sounds. When this mass-feather-loss happens, they can’t go in the water, because without their feathers – they’ll fr… fr… freeze! And because they’re not swimming to catch fish, they can go without food for a few weeks. Instead, storing away fat to get them through.
If you want to see these cool creatures close up, Penguin Passport is your ticket to hang out on the ice with our penguin colony. We’ll suit you up in snow gear, and you can spend 45 minutes touring their home, including the behind-the-scenes meal prep and veterinary areas. See the striking King penguins and the mischievous Gentoo penguins.
And if you’re here at the right time of year, you might even witness a ‘penguin pebble proposal’ as part of the Gentoo mating ritual. Watch in awe as our Gentoos go looking for the perfect pebble, as a kind of engagement ring to give their mate.
Everyone loves these beautiful birds. Come and see them do their thing and spend some time in their world.