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Manchots de Humbolt © MNHN - F-G Grandin

The Humboldt penguin

The Humboldt penguin, Spheniscus humboldti, is a bird which "flies under the water" and lives in the coastal areas of South America.


Class, order and family :
Aves, Sphenisciformes, Spheniscidae
Life span :
up to 20 - 30 years in captivity
Size & Weight :
65 - 70 cm and 3.5 - 5 kg
Incubation :
40 - 42 days, 1 – 2 eggs
Natural habitat :
coastal areas
Diet :
piscivore – fish and crustaceans
Native region :
South America, particularly in Chile and Peru
Statut UICN : 

Vulnerable (VU)


Penguin couples are faithful, choosing their partner for life. 
The young penguins are grouped together in a "nursery" while the parents go fishing.
In captivity, "homosexual" pairs of males or females sometimes take charge of rearing the young. 

Distinctive features

Each individual can be distinguished by small black spots on its belly. Adults have a pink area around their beak that distinguishes them from other penguin species.
Its rigid, streamlined wings enable it to swim at speeds of up to 30 km/h! The different "layers" of feathers provide perfect thermal insulation, while the layer of air between the skin and the feathers ensures good buoyancy.

The penguin is often confused with the penguin, but they are two very different species. There is one major difference between them: penguins can fly, but penguins cannot!


From 1850 onwards, the use of penguin droppings as a natural fertiliser led to the decline of the penguin population, as this material is essential for the manufacture of nests. Penguin populations have also been weakened by hunting, intensive fishing, mining, pollution and human recreational activities.
On the Pacific coast of South America, action is being taken to reduce accidental catches in fishing nets, implement a less aggressive method of harvesting guano and develop economic conservation compromises.

The colony at the Parc zoologique de Paris is part of the European breeding programme, the aim of which is to guarantee the genetic diversity of the ex-situ population of this species. 
Humboldt penguins



The group of Humboldt penguins at the Paris Zoological Park is made up of around twenty individuals. Styrbjorn, the male, and Karin, the female, are the emblematic couple of the colony.

In January, you can watch their courtship around the pond. The first eggs are laid in February and the chicks hatch in April. You can watch the chicks in their nests until June.

Les autres animaux de la biozone Patagonia biozone