occasionally icefish and squid
of sub-Antarctic islands
and South Indian Oceans
Penguins have good underwater vision and hunt by sight. To catch their favourite prey of bioluminescent lanternfish, king penguins in the wild dive by night to depths of up to 240m.
Our king penguins feed on capelin and herring. As the fish are thawed, water-soluble vitamins are lost. To remedy this, our keepers hide multi-vitamin tablets in fish and hand-feed these to our penguins. Each of our kings get three tablets a day, the smaller penguins receive two.
Exercise, on top of a nutritious diet, helps keep our penguins physically strong and mentally
alert. Playing with balls and popping bubbles are some of the many enrichment activities our
keepers provide, to encourage them to explore and play. The keepers are always trying
something new – a different-coloured ball, dancing lights, even strange new sounds.
The king penguin is no stranger to loud sounds. During breeding season, pairs take turn to
forage and incubate their eggs. When off-duty parents return to shore, they locate their
partners through contact calls that can be heard from a kilometre away.
At 55 days, king penguins have one of the longest incubation periods among birds. A single
egg is laid and balanced between its feet, where it is incubated under a fold of bare skin
called a brood pouch. The downy hatchling uses this for shelter. King penguin chicks are
covered in a brown down. Look out for our chicks at Penguin Coast – they are hard to miss
among the black and white adults.
Get acquainted with some of our birds during their feeding sessions. Purchase a portion of food onsite, and enjoy intimate encounters with our avian friends. All proceeds will help to fund our wildlife conservation efforts in the region.
Do come 15 minutes before the feeding starts, as we limit our food supply for each feeding session.
We welcomed our first king penguin chick in 2008, becoming the first Southeast Asian institution to breed the species in captivity. Spurred on by our success, we collaborated with a local polytechnic to learn more about their breeding behaviour.