Skip to main content

Southern Rockhopper Penguin

Eudyptes chrysocome

Did you know?

  • Southern rockhopper penguins are a part of the Spheniscidae family, which they share with other penguins.
  • In the wild, they feed mostly on krill, but also eat fish and squid. At the Zoo, rockhoppers eat fish, including capelin, mackerel, herring and trout.
  • They grow to about 18 inches tall and weigh 4 to 9 pounds.
  • Both males and females aggressively defend their territory.
  • A female typically lays two eggs in a 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. They also have unique coloration that helps them camouflage in the water: When seen from below, their white bellies blend with the light cast on the ocean surface. When seen from above, their black backs blend with the darkness of the ocean depths.

Jumping and Hopping

As the name suggests, southern rockhopper penguins can leap off the ledges and cliffs of the rocky habitat where they nest. They can also survive the battering they get when they launch themselves out of high waves onto rocky coastlines. Rockhoppers can jump up to six feet in a single hop.

Threat Level

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


The Southern Rockhopper Penguin faces a high risk of extinction in the wild.


Argentina, Australis, Chile, Falkland Islands, French Southern Territories, Heard Island and McDonald Island, New Zealand, St. Helena, South Africa


Open Ocean, rocky shorelines

We care about southern rockhopper penguins

The Saint Louis Zoo helps southern rockhopper penguins through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this species, a program that works to increase the number of rockhopper penguins. We also support this species in Penguin and Puffin Coast at the Zoo.

Learn more about how we are helping a related penguin species, 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