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Information about King PenguinsThe King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is the second largest species of penguin at about 11 to 16 kg (24 to 35 lb), second only to the Emperor Penguin. There are two subspecies - A. p. patagonicus and A. p. halli; patagonicus is found in the South Atlantic and halli elsewhere.
King Penguins (9 walls) eat small fish, mainly lanternfish, and squid and rely less than most Southern Ocean predators on krill and other crustaceans. On foraging trips they repeatedly dive to over 100 metres (350 feet), often over 200 metres (700 feet). This is far deeper than other Penguins (9 walls), other than their closest relative, the larger Emperor Penguin.
King Penguins (9 walls) breed on the subantarctic islands at the northern reaches of Antarctica, as well as Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia, and other temperate islands of the region. The total population is estimated to be 2.23 million pairs and is increasing.
An immature bird will have yellow- rather than orange-tinged markings, and grey tips to its black brown feathers. It moults into adult plumage at after reaching two years of age.
The chick is first covered with brown-grey down, before moulting into a thick, woolly brown coat borne until around 10–12 months of age. Their mandibular plates are black until the moult into immature plumage.
BehaviourThe American physiologist Gerry Kooyman revolutionized the study of penguin foraging behaviour in 1971 (46 years ago) when he published his results from attaching automatic dive-recording devices to Emperor Penguins (9 walls) (4 walls), and recording a dive of 235 meters (770 feet) by a King Penguin in 1982 (35 years ago). The current maximum dive recorded is 343 metres in the Falkland Islands region, and a maximum time submerged of 552 seconds recorded at the Crozet Islands. The King Penguin dives to depths of 100-300 meters (350-1000 feet), spending around 5 minutes submerged, during daylight hours, and less than 30 meters (100 feet) at night.
The majority (around 88% in one study) of dives undertaken by King Penguins (9 walls) are flat-bottomed; that is, the penguin dives to a certain depth and remains there for a period of time hunting (roughly 50% of total dive time) before returning to the surface. They have been described as U-shaped or W-shaped, relating to the course of the dive. The bird dives in a V-shaped or 'spike' pattern in the remaining 12% of dives; that is the bird dives at an angle through the water column, reaches a certain depth and then returns to the surface. Other Penguins (9 walls) dive in this latter foraging pattern in contrast. Observations at Crozet Islands revealed most King Penguins (9 walls) were seen within 30 km (18 mi) of the colony. Using the average swimming speed, Kooyman estimated the distance travelled to foraging areas at 28 km (17 mi).
Its average swimming speed is 6.5–10 km/h (4–6 mph). On shallower dives under 60 m (200 ft), it averages 2 km/h (1.25 mph) descending and ascending, while on deeper dives over 150 m (500 ft) deep, it averages 5 km/h (3 mph) in both directions. On land, the King Penguin alternates between walking with a wobbling gait and tobogganing—sliding over the ice on its belly, propelled by its feet and wing-like flippers. Like all Penguins (9 walls), it is flightless.
SubspeciesIn 1911 (106 years ago), the ornithologist Gregory Mathews proposed the two subspecies currently recognised:
A. p. patagonicus breeds on South Georgia and Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
A. p. halli breeds on the Kerguelen, Crozet, Prince Edward, Heard, and Macquarie Islands.
Relationship with humansConsidered a flagship species, 176 individuals were counted in captivity in North American Zoos and Aquaria in 1999 (18 years ago). The species has been bred in captivity at SeaWorld in San Diego, USA. The species is exhibited at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, USA, Indianapolis Zoo, USA, Detroit Zoo, USA, Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, Zurich Zoo in Switzerland, 63 Seaworld in Seoul, South Korea and Melbourne Aquarium in Australia.
It is also the emblem of Edinburgh Zoo.
Roger Tory Peterson's ornithological nickname was "King Penguin".
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