African penguin walking along the beach

African penguin

African penguins are one of the few species of penguin that do not need to worry about freezing temperatures and Antarctic snow. For Africa’s only breeding penguin, extremely high temperatures are the biggest challenge. They live in colonies on the islands and rocky shores between Namibia and South Africa, where they spend most of the time at sea feeding on small shoaling fish such as anchovies and sardines.

African penguins are also called ‘jackass’ penguins because they emit a loud, braying donkey-like call. The black and white plumage cleverly camouflages them from predators: the white chest and belly helps hide them from aquatic threats below, and the black back protects from aerial predators above.

Scientific name: Spheniscus demersus

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Black-footed penguin,
  • Jackass penguin

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The African penguin can be found in a number of locations including: Africa. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the African penguin distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status


  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Decreasing

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Birds
  5. Sphenisciformes
  6. Penguins
  7. Banded penguins
  8. African penguin