Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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The Honey Bee Cafe will be closed today. The Hofman Dog Haus will be open and Dippin' Dots are available in the Animal Health Center.

Humboldt Penguin

Spheniscus humboldti

Humboldt penguins hail from a temperate climate, the Humboldt current on the Pacific coast of South America, for which they are named.

Range & Habitat

Humboldt penguins are found along the West Coast of South America from Peru to Chile. They nest along the rocky coastal areas and the neighboring islands.

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

The Humboldt penguin population numbers about 32,000 and is in decline for many reasons. They are affected by changing weather patterns, food shortages, overfishing, natural predators and loss of nesting sites due to human encroachment.


In the Wild -- Small schooling fish such as anchovies, sardines, squid, herring and hake.

At the Zoo -- Capelin, smelt, herring and silversides.

Life Span

In the Wild – 20 years
In Human Care – over 30 years.

Fun Facts about the Humboldt Penguin

  • All penguins live south of the equator from Antarctica to Ecuador.
  • Penguin wings are paddle-like flippers used for swimming, not flying. They steer with their feet and tail.
  • Penguins can swim faster than many fish. They are perfectly adapted to live between land and sea. Humboldt penguins can swim up to 20 mph.
  • Penguins use the sun to navigate from land to sea. They adjust for the sun's changing position in the sky throughout the day.


International Penguin Conservation Working Group, (n.d.). Humboldt penguin. Retrieved Apr. 24, 2005, from IPCWG Web site:

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, (n.d.). Spheniscus humboldti. Retrieved Apr. 24, 2005, from 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Web site:

Penguin Taxon Advisory Group, (n.d.). Humboldt. Retrieved Apr. 24, 2005, from Penguin Taxon Advisory Group Web site: result.cfm?source=animals&displaylanguage=eng&Common=24111&Country=&tabname=Status~main.

United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, (n.d.). Cites-listed species database. Retrieved Jun. 14, 2005, from UNEP-WCMC Web site: html?

Wildscreen, (n.d.). Humboldt penguin (spheniscus humboldti). Retrieved Apr. 25, 2005, from ARKive|Images of Life on Earth Web site: http://www.arkive.orgispecies/GES/birds/Spheniscus_humboldti/more_info.html.

Woodland Park Zoological Society, (n.d.). Humboldt penguin - spheniscus humboldti. Retrieved Jun. 7, 2005, from Woodland Park Zoo Web site:

Updated June 13, 2023
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