Did You Know?
The Galapagos penguin is the smallest member of the spheniscidae family which includes 3 other species the Humboldt, Magellanic and the African penguins. This penguin is a truly tropical weather penguin, living on the hot desert islands of the Galapagos at the equator making it the most northerly penguin species. Temperatures often exceed 100 F in this region.

Galapagos Penguin
Spheniscus mendiculus

Standing Height:
19-21 inchesWeight:5-6 PoundsMarkings are similar to the other members of the spheniscus family, but breast striping is slightly more mottled brown and undefined. Males have more bold markings, and are significantly larger. This species has more bare skin on its face than the other temperate penguins.

Eyes:    Brown

 


Names:
Common: Galapagos penguin
Scientific: Spheniscus mendiculus. Spheniscus meaning “little wedge” and mendiculus meaning “little beggar”.

Home:
Lives year round on the Galapagos Islands 600 Miles west of Ecuador. 95% of the population found on Fernandina and Isabela island.

Diet:
Mullet, squid and sardines.

Habits:
Forages in the ocean by day and spends the night on land to avoid extreme daytime temperatures. Nests in crevices and burrows dug into volcanic deposits, and lined with leaves, feathers, and bones. Breeding is in solitary pairs, or small groups.

Reproduction:
Breeding occurs throughout the year; eggs are laid in any month, usually dependent upon sea temperatures, with peak “seasons” occurring June-September, and December-March. Two eggs incubated for 38-40 days, duties shared by both parents. Chicks remain near nests until fledging at 60-65 days. Molt is pre-nuptial.

Predators:
Natural: Galapagos shark, Galapagos hawk. Galapagos snake, rats, and Sally Lightfoot Crabs which take chicks and eggs.
Introduced: Feral dogs, cats and rats.

Conservation Challenges and Solutions:
Increased human habitation of the islands. Global climate change. Nearly 77% of the population was wiped out in 1982 by El Nino, proving that environmental effects alone can have a devastating effect on this population. Overfishing in the area contributes to a diminishing food supply. Introduced predators. Oil spills.

Population/IUCN- The World Conservation Union designation:
Endangered population estimated 2,000 birds.

North American Zoos & Aquariums:
None