King penguin

At the Detroit Zoo
The king penguins can be seen at the Penguinarium – the first zoo facility built specifically for penguins – along with the macaroni, rockhopper and gentoo penguins.  A unique circular pool lets the birds swim continuously, giving them the ability to swim fast enough to porpoise and “fly” through the water.  The Detroit Zoo is one of the few zoos where penguins can display this natural behavior.


The king is the second largest species of penguin, after the emperor penguin.  Vivid orange feathers on its head and upper chest distinguish it from other penguin species. 


Scientific name: Aptenodytes patagonicus
Continent: Antarctica
Habitat: Spends most of its time in the water, but can be found in the sparse vegetation on an island.
Size: 2-3 feet tall
Weight: 20-40 pounds
Diet: Small fish, squid and cephalopods
Reproduction: Males and females will “dance” with one another to start the courtship ritual. Once a mate has been selected, they will breed for life. The king penguin incubates the egg for approximately 54 days under a pouch of belly skin – called a brood pouch – that keeps it at the penguin’s internal body temperature.
Lifespan: Up to 26 years in captivity
Conservation Status: Least Concern



King penguins come ashore only during breeding season, and raise one chick every other year.  

While on land, this species stands with the tips of its feet pointed up to reduce contact with the icy ground, as it does not adapt well to extreme cold like other penguins.