Kids entrance free !

When buying an adult ticket. Discover the offer here.

Humboldt Penguin

Theme area:  Sea Lion Rock
Scientific name:  Spheniscus humboldti
Class:  Birds
Order:   Sphenisciformes - Penguins
Family:   Spheniscidae
Continent:  South America
Habitat:  Rocky beaches and burrows
Diet:  Piscivore
Weight:  3.5 - 5kg
Size:  65 - 70cm
altphoto altphoto
Covid Info
European Ex-situ Programme (EEP)

European Ex-situ Programme (EEP)

As an adult, this penguin has a white belly and black back like all penguin species.  Its head is black with a white stripe that starts behind the eyes and runs down to the throat.


Measures between 65 and 70 cm.

Weighs between 3.5 and 5 kg.

This bird does not exhibit sexual dimorphism. Sexual maturity is reached between 2 and 3 years old.

Lifespan is estimated at  20-25 years.



The Humboldt penguin lives on the coasts of Peru and Chile in temperatures ranging from 5 to 30°C. It has adapted to these hot regions thanks to:

  • the rich ecosystem of the cold Humboldt Current that flows up the coasts of Peru and Chile; and
  • a featherless area around its beak that allows it to regulate its temperature.



This penguin lives on rocky coasts and nests in crevices in the rock or in burrows dug in the guano (piles of seabird droppings).



The Humboldt penguin is gregarious and lives in large colonies where it uses a range of vocalisations to communicate during courtship or fights between individuals.

There is no real breeding season. The female generally lays two eggs that she incubates alternately with the male for about forty days. The hatchlings are covered with a dark gray down.  During the first two months, the chicks remain with one of the parents. The latter then leave them to go fishing together. At around the age of 3 months, they bear their first greyish plumage, different from that of the adults. This is the signal for them to go and learn to fish. They will take on their final colour after their first molt.



Fish, mainly anchovies, cephalopods and crustaceans.



Killer whale, leopard seal, sea lion, fox, snake and giant petrel.



The population suffered a very sharp decline as a result of intensive harvesting of guano from the species' most favoured nesting sites in Peru and northern Chile in the mid-19th century. Guano is the accumulation of seabird droppings on their living areas.  It is an extremely effective natural fertiliser, high in nitrogen, phosphorus and trace elements. The population grew from hundreds of thousands to between 16,000 and 20,000, only to fall to between 5,000 and 6,000 after the El Nino phenomenon of 1982 and 1983.

Other threats to the Humboldt penguin include overfishing, pollution and habitat disturbance.



All penguin species are protected from hunting and egg collection.

Reduce our waste and pesticide use. Consume fish from eco-responsible fishing. Protect the natural habitat of the Humboldt penguin by supporting local activities.



Extinct in the wild
Critically endangered
Near threatened
Least concern
Insufficient data
Not evaluated


There is a Humboldt Current which is a cold marine surface current in the Pacific Ocean. It maintains a zone of high pressure over the coasts of Chile and Peru which prevents rainfall.