|Did You Know?
The Gentoo penguin belongs to a group of penguins commonly known as brush tailed penguins which also include the Adelie and Chinstrap penguins. The Gentoo is the most timid of the three.
Common: Johnny and Gentoo. Gentoo referring to inhabitants of India who wore cotton caps resembling the white band across this penguin’s head.
Scientific: Pygoscelis papua. Pygoscelis which means rump legged and Papua which refers to Papua, New Guinea although there are no penguins to be found at this location.
Around the globe on sub-Antarctic islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Two distinct subspecies: Pygoscelis papua papua found on the sub-Antarctic islands and Pygoscelis papua ellsworthii, the smaller subspecies, found on the Antarctic Peninsula and neighboring islands.
Fish and krill. Gentoos are inshore feeders.
Gentoos remain at their colonies year round. The colonies are seldom located in the same spot from year to year because by the end of one breeding season the bird’s nesting activities have destroyed the vegetation and therefore they move to greener areas the following season.
Gentoos nest only in snow free locations unlike the other brush tailed species. They lay 2 eggs and incubation takes 37 days with duties shared by both partners. Chicks are attended by parents until 25 days and then they join other chicks in groups called creches. Parents continue to feed chicks until they fledge at 80 days.
Sea lions, Orcas, leopard seals prey on adults while skuas, Dominican gulls and striated caracaras take chicks and eggs.
Conservation Challenges and Solutions:
Human disturbance at breeding sites. Pollution. Fisheries interactions.
Population/IUCN- The World Conservation Union designation:
Near Threatened population estimated at 628,000 birds.
North American Zoos & Aquariums:
Captive population in North America = 385