An emperor penguin chick between two adults facing each other

Emperor penguin

There is definitely no mistaking the colourful emperor penguin and standing over a metre tall they are the largest in the family. These Antarctic specialists endure the worst breeding conditions of any bird. Travelling to nesting sites in March there is intense competition between the females for a mate followed by a necessarily brief courtship.

After a single egg is laid the females return to the sea for some well earned nourishment, only returning when the chicks begin to hatch. This leaves the males to incubate the eggs in the most extreme winter weather the planet has to offer. Emperor penguins are excellent swimmers but on land they either shuffle along or slide about on their bellies.

Scientific name: Aptenodytes forsteri

Rank: Species

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


The following habitats are found across the Emperor 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

Least Concern

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

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


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

BBC News about Emperor penguin

See all Emperor penguin news stories

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