Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

Humboldt Penguin

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Enter the Zoo and the Penguins are just up on the left.

Fast facts

Status Vulnerable

Size 65-70 cm

Weight 4-4.7kg

Gestation 40 days

Young 2 eggs are laid

Life span Up to 26 years

What do I eat?

Humboldt penguins mainly eat fish, such as anchovies, herring and hake, as well as squid. They catch their prey by diving underwater and chasing after it.

Where do I live?

These penguins are found along the coasts of Peru and Chile, close to the Humboldt current, which is a cold ocean current containing lots of nutrients and sustaining lots of fish.


Humboldt penguins nest on islands and rocky coasts with cliffs and sea caves. They create nests in caves, crevices or scrapes (shallow depressions), or dig burrows into guano (bird droppings).  


Not much is known about the predators of Humboldt penguins, but killer whales, great white sharks and South American fur seals are thought to prey on them at sea. On land, the main predators of these birds are desert foxes, and also gulls, which will prey on eggs. Introduced animals such as dogs and cats may also be predators of these penguins.


Humboldt penguins face a number of threats. These include entanglement in fishing nets, hunting for food and the pet trade, harvesting of guano for use as fertiliser, and being hunted by introduced species such as cats and dogs. More recently, overfishing is believed to be causing a decline in the numbers of this species.


Conservation measures that are in place to help this species include regular monitoring of colonies in Peru and Chile, the creation of protected nesting and foraging areas, and the removal of rodents from some nesting areas.

Penguin Cam

Penguin Cam - Click to view video

Did you know?

Penguins regularly dive up to 30m deep when catching prey! They have even been recorded diving to 53m. 

Penguins have a special gland so they can deal with the high levels of salt in their diet. The excess salt is concentrated and then dribbles down their bill.

When swimming, penguins move their wings in the same way as flying birds.

Most water birds use their feet as paddles, but penguins use their feet, along with their tail to help them steer.

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Group Visits

Thank you all again for the wonderful service we received on Sunday. We all loved it!

My guests all said that they very much enjoyed their visit - how much they learnt from you and your colleagues who made sure that we were very much looked after. Many of my guests could tell how passionate your team were in looking after the animals and informed about Marwell's… Read full reviewLing, 21st August 2019