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Gentoo Penguin

Pygoscelis papua

Did you know?

  • Gentoo penguins are a part of the Spheniscidae family, which they share with other penguins.
  • They live in the open ocean and shorelines in Antarctica and nearby sub-Antarctic islands.
  • They are the fastest diving birds in the world, reaching 22 miles an hour.
  • They can dive over 350 feet deep.
  • A female will lay two eggs per clutch.


All penguins have torpedo-shaped bodies designed for moving efficiently through water. They use their wings to help them swim and their webbed feet to steer underwater. Their bones tend to be denser than those of flying birds, and the extra weight helps them dive to greater depths. A special gland removes salt from their bodies after they swallow saltwater. Penguin eyes are sensitive to the colors of the sea: violets, blues, and greens. They have a second transparent eyelid, which serve as "goggles" that protect their eyes and allow them to see while submerged. Gentoo penguins have paddle-like feet that help them to reach amazing speeds in water – up to 22 miles an hour!

Young and Family

Gentoo penguins will create nests from nearby materials, which can include pebbles and feathers. A female will lay two eggs per clutch. The eggs will be incubated by the parents for up to 36 days, and after hatching, the parents will take care of their chicks for another 25 to 35 days.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild

Near Threatened

The Gentoo Penguin is likely to qualify for threatened category in the near future.


Antarctica and Sub-antarctic islands


Open ocean, rocky shorelines

We care about gentoo penguins

The Saint Louis Zoo is part of the the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this species, a program that works to increase the number of healthy captive gentoos. We also support gentoo penguins in the Penguin and Puffin Coast at the Zoo.

Learn more about how we are helping a close relative, the Humboldt penguin, in the wild.

Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in Punta San Juan, Peru

Find this animal in The Wild


The Wild

You’ll find penguins, puffins, grizzly bears, gorillas, chimpanzees, to name a few. And while visiting, you can take a ride on the Conservation Carousel or hop aboard and ride the Zooline Railroad. There are also gift shops and eateries you can enjoy.

Explore The Wild