Getting Wild With… Emperor Penguins!

By Zaynab Latheef, age 10

Did you know that emperor penguins are a type of bird that can’t fly? They are also the largest type of penguin. Emperor penguins live in huge colonies of around 5,000 penguins. Some colonies even have up to 25,000 penguins and can be seen from space! Penguins are extremely fast in the water. This ability helps them to catch fish, krill and squid. Being fast in the water is especially helpful when trying to escape leopard seals and orcas who want to eat them for dinner.

Emperor penguins only live in Antarctica on ice and water. Climate change is causing the ice to melt too quickly. Because of this, emperor penguins are becoming endangered. In late 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that emperor penguins should be protected by law because Antarctic ice, where the penguins raise their young, is being threatened by climate change.

Some colonies have experienced poor ice conditions causing all the chicks to drown. The emperor penguin is also under threat due to breeding failures. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the emperor penguin population has declined by 50%. One colony off the Antarctic Peninsula has already completely disappeared. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution warned that by the year 2100, emperor penguins will be extinct if nothing changes. 

Shaye Wolf, the climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, explained during the endangered announcement that emperor penguins need urgent climate action in order to survive. “The penguin’s very existence depends on whether our government takes strong action now to cut climate-heating fossil fuels and prevent irreversible damage to life on Earth,” said Wolf.

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