Happy World Penguin Day!

Filed under: SeaWorld |

Empire of the Penguin (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

Today is World Penguin Day.

Question: So where did the penguin get it’s name?

Answer: The first bird actually called a ‘penguin’ was the now-extinct Great Auk found in the North Atlantic.  The great auk, Pinguinus impennis, is one of the most powerful symbols of the damage humans can cause. The species was driven extinct as a result of centuries of intense human exploitation. Large dense colonies of this flightless bird once gathered in summer on remote islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland. Easy prey for hunters, they were slaughtered in huge numbers until the late 1700 for meat, eggs, feathers and oil.

European fisherman and whalers devastated the largest colony in Newfoundland and a 1775 petition to stop the massacre failed.

In the early 1800s, the rarer the birds became, the more desirable they seemed. Demand from museums and collectors dealt the final blow and by the mid 1850’s the species was extinct.

Empire of the Penguin (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

There are just 17 species of penguin worldwide, they all live in the Southern Hemisphere apart from the Galapagos penguin which just about qualifies as living in the Northern Hemisphere as it spans a narrow band at the equator.

Of this 17, there are 4 that live and nest on and around the Antarctic continent and a further 3 that live and nest on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands, giving us 7 species that can be considered “Antarctic Penguins”. The four species that live and nest around the Antarctic continent are the Emperor penguin, Gentoo penguin, Adelie penguin, Chinstrap penguin. The three that can be considered real southerners are the King penguin, the Macaroni penguin and the Rockhopper penguin.

Empire of the Penguin (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

Penguins are also found in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, the Falkland Islands, the Galapagos Islands and in Orlando…more on that later!

Penguins have also been immortalized on the big and small screens: singing with Mary Poppins, plotting against Batman, stealing the Muppet Show’s show, protecting the oceans with the Octonauts and being a criminal mastermind in Wallace & Grommit.

Empire of the Penguin (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

Question: Why is today World Penguin Day? Answer: It is the day that coincides with the annual northward migration of penguins. This happens each year on or around April 25th. Penguins do not fly. Rather, they walk, or waddle their way to and from.  To move fast through the water, penguins use a technique called ‘porpoising’ and to move quickly over ice, they switch to ‘tobogganing.’

Empire of the Penguin (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

The penguin is a wonderful species and you can actually see them in Orlando. To do this, take a trip to SeaWorld Orlando and the brand new Empire of the Penguin exhibit. It’s a fascinating journey into the world of an amazing animal. Guests have the opportunity to spend time with these marvelous creatures and to actually watch up close and personal as they embark in a variety of behaviors. It’s a must do when visiting Orlando!

Empire of the Penguin (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

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