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Penguins at the Racine Zoo in Racine, WI
Racine Zoo Penguins
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African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus), in their natural habitat enclosure, are one of the many exhibits at the Racine Zoo in Racine, Wisconsin.

African penguins are also known as jackass penguins, because they make a sound that is very similar to a donkey's bray.

Size:  23-25 inches tall; 5-9 pounds

Diet:  Small fishes, such as herring, anchovies and sardines

Lifespan:  10-15 years

Range  Africa’s coastal waters and islands, from Namibia through South Africa

Habitat:  African penguins lay their eggs on rocky and sandy coastal islands
but hunt in the nutrient-rich cold-water currents just offshore.

Predators:  Sharks and seals hunt penguins in the water, and seagulls, mongoose
and cats prey on nesting penguins and their offspring.

Relatives:  There are 17 penguin species. African penguins are closely related
to the Humboldt, Galapagos and Magellanic penguins.

Family life:  African penguins breed in huge, noisy colonies. They lay two eggs in
burrows, bowl-shaped depressions dug in the sand, which protect the eggs from the sun.
Like all penguins, they form tight pair bonds, and both parents incubate the eggs and feed
the chicks for 2-4 months. The chicks are old enough to breed in 2-4 years.

Conservation status:  Vulnerable  African penguins are vulnerable, which means they are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Major reasons include depletion of their food from overfishing and pollution from incidences such as oil spills. Most nest on islands, where they should be safe from predators, but cats, mongoose and other introduced predators are now present on many of these islands.
(Source: New England Aquarium http://www.neaq.org/animals_and_exhibits/animals/african_penguin/index.php)

 

 


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This page updated or reviewed in March 2011