All Posts By

Penguins International

What do you call a group of penguins?

King Penguin Waddle

What do you call a group of penguins?

By Abigail Pietrow, Penguin Keeper

A “pride” of lions, a “pod” of dolphins, a “murder” of crows… There are plenty of different names for groups of animals. Some are familiar, like herds or packs, and some are wacky, like a “smack” of jellyfish or an “embarrassment” of pandas. These terms often have their roots in unusual or notable traits of the group they describe. Examples of this might include a “prickle” of porcupines or a “romp” of otters!

So, what in the world do we call a group of penguins?

It turns out the answer to that question depends on several different things, like age, location, and activity. A group of penguins is called many things. Let’s start with…

(1) A group of penguins is called a Waddle!

Everyone knows that penguins waddle. It’s one of their most endearing traits and is a result of their skeletal anatomy and hydrodynamic adaptations.

This is one of those group terms that come from a notable characteristic of the species. Specifically, it is often used to describe a group of penguins on land that are on the move!

(2) A group of penguins is called a Colony or a Rookery! 

Penguins are social birds, and during the breeding season and other times of the year they congregate on land in groups of hundreds or even thousands of individuals! These large breeding groups are referred to as a colony or rookery. Penguins show a high degree of site-fidelity and will typically return to the same location, and sometimes even the same nest site, year after year.

Rockhopper Penguin Colony
Source: Penguins International photo library

(3) A group of penguins is called a Crèche! 

A crèche is a group of chicks that band together for safety in numbers while their parents hunt. This term can also be defined as “a place where young children are cared for during the day while their parents do something else.” So, kind of like a penguin daycare!

Within breeding colonies, penguin parents are hard at work raising chicks. This requires sharing of guard duty while the other parent is feeding at sea to bring back food for the young ones. However, penguin chicks grow very quickly. After a certain point, usually around 4-5 weeks, the chicks are big enough that they no longer need the parent to help keep them warm and they require enough food that both parents need to be fishing more regularly to keep the chicks sufficiently fed. Chicks will group together for safety while their parents are at sea. These crèches are most often seen in surface-nesting species, as chicks of burrow-nesting species like the banded penguins and Little Blue penguin will usually remain in their own sheltered nest while waiting for their parents to return.

Gentoo Penguin chicks in a creche
Source: Penguins International photo library

(4) A group of penguins is called a Raft!

This term is used to describe a group of penguins in the water. Penguins eat an exclusively seafood diet, and so spend quite a large portion of their time at sea hunting. Penguins will not only dive to hunt for food in the ocean but will also spend periods of time floating at the surface to rest or preen their feathers. Such a group of floating birds is likely what inspired the descriptive term!

Abigail Pietrow is a penguin keeper at the Aquarium of Niagara, and works extensively with Humboldt Penguins. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily represent those of the Aquarium of Niagara.

Who knew there were so many different names for a group of these flightless birds? Which one did you find most interesting? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! Please help us continue to share more penguin stories by donating to Penguins International.

Uncover more fascinating facts in some of our other blogs:

Like our penguin blogs? Sign up for our newsletter to get them right in your inbox!


Borboroglu, P. G. & Boersma, P. D. (2013). Penguins: Natural history and conservation. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

CRÈCHE: Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from

Mendoran, S. (2018, October 27). A Comprehensive List of Animal Group Names – Owlcation – Education. Retrieved October 20,2020, from

Penguins. (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from

Chinstrap Penguins: Risking Their Lives on Zavodovski Island

Chinstrap Penguin

Chinstrap Penguins: Risking Their Lives on Zavodovski Island

By Sian Liversage

We often think of penguin colonies as a magical place, full of cute fluffy chicks and amazing doting parents. However, these situations are far from the truth when you add some of the most dangerous seas and an active volcano spewing ash into the mix. 

Zavodovski Island – One of the largest Chinstrap Penguin colonies in the world

Chinstrap Penguins stand 75cm tall and are well known for their narrow band of black feathers that pass from ear to ear across the face and under the chin. One of the largest Chinstrap Penguin colonies in the world is on Zavodovski Island, situated in the South Sandwich Islands in Antarctica. With 7.5 million Chinstrap Penguins worldwide, the colony represents over one-seventh of the species’ global population. As well as this vast population, approximately 180,000 Macaroni Penguins are resident here too.

The Chinstraps arrive to breed during the October and November months to lay 2 small eggs on the ground in a nest that is lined with small stones. Eggs are incubated by both the males and females, where they will often incubate in stints of up to 6 days at a time. During this time, one penguin will be feeding on Antarctic krill and various other crustaceans of which the chicks rely on for growth and development, while the other penguin will keep the eggs warm and protected.

Chinstrap Penguin
A Chinstrap Penguin in Antarctica. Source: Penguins International Photo Library

In order to get the food though, the penguins must face treacherous waters and 30-foot cliffs that surround the island, risking severe injury or even worse – death. (see link below)

These Chinstraps have to face catastrophic natural disasters to survive

Their strong feet and long claws allow them to grip to the rocks as best they can with some varying success, however, with the pounding waves it is inevitable that they won’t always succeed. To make things even more astounding, this isn’t the only hardship they go through. Not only do they have to endure the perilous seas every 6 days for weeks on end to feed their chicks, but they also face natural disasters too.

The volcanic eruption on Mount Curry severely threatened this penguin colony

Zavodovski Island is home to an active volcano, called Mount Curry. In 2016, it threatened more than 1 million Chinstrap Penguins, so much so that the population was in risk of being wiped out. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) stated that the volcano had erupted and covered the island in toxic smoke and ash. The penguins were in grave danger of the smoke causing breathing difficulties, and the volcanic discharge could have potentially burned them or buried them in ash. The timing was terrible for the poor birds, as it was during their annual moult which meant that they couldn’t swim to find safety. During moulting, the penguins lose their insulation and waterproofing as they shed their old feathers for new ones, therefore they are forced to stay on land and out of the water. 

Mt Curry
Mount Curry on Zavodovski Island erupted on March 2016.  Photo Credit: British Antarctic Survey

The penguins survived, but scientists have little ability to observe how they react to such an eruption

This is believed to have been the first time Zavodovski Island has been witnessed erupting, and it is thought that this event occurred following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake only a month before. Although this threat occurred a few years ago, to this day the volcano remains active and could easily erupt again leaving the penguins at its peril. With the island being so remote – over a thousand miles away from the nearest continental coastline – surveys cannot be undertaken regularly as the trip requires acute planning for the safety of the scientists involved. Therefore, the population could easily be wiped out without anyone even realising.

The impact that mother nature throws at this penguin colony is astonishing and often scientists are unsure what impact they will have on the health and survival of the population in the long run. Only by sending scientific expeditions to the region can they have a better understanding of how Chinstrap Penguins manage to survive these ongoing threats.

Did you ever imagine that penguins not only have to survive the harsh temperatures of Antarctica, but some penguins even have to live and survive around massive volcanic eruptions. Have you ever seen a volcanic eruption in person? Let us know what you think? And please help us to continue to provide you with penguin news articles by donating to Penguins International.

Read more about penguins in some of our other blogs:

Like our penguin blogs? Sign up for our newsletter to get them right in your inbox!


Ellenbroek, B. 2013 [updated 2017]. Chinstrap penguin. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds

Knapton, S. 2016. Penguins on world’s smelliest island in danger as volcano erupts, covering them in ash. Webpage:

Sidder, A. 2016. Erupting volcano may have destroyed huge penguin colony. Webpage:


Film – A Place for Penguins

Tom Parry A Place of Penguins Film

Documentary Film – A Place For Penguins

Ready to learn more about penguins? Find about about a great penguin film from a friend of Penguins International who put this together for his Master’s degree in film in the UK.

Film Bio

Africa is a continent famous for its wildlife. But there’s one resident that’s often overlooked, and many don’t even realise exists – the African penguin.

However, years of overfishing have seen Africa’s penguins plummet to frighteningly low numbers, with scientists at the University of Cape Town recently heeding the gloomy warning that the species could be extinct by the year 2026.

A Place For Penguins follows an unlikely duo as they team up and take on an ambitious, novel and entirely unique project – creating the world’s first artificially-induced African Penguin colony. This story demonstrates that science and art are not mutually exclusive. Conservation is a collaborative effort and if we are going to meet the challenges facing our planet we need to cooperate, think outside-the-box and break down traditional academic disciplines to unearth innovative solutions.

Credits & Thank You’s

Filmed, Edited & Narrated by Tom Parry

Original Score by Gard Figenschou Eriksen

This film was made possible through the incredible kindness and hospitality of many hardworking and dedicated conservationists across the Western Cape. Special thanks go to Christina Hagen at BirdLife South Africa – the brains behind the ‘Penguin Colony Project’ – the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and seabird biologist Alistair McInnes for his amazing support, for which I’m very grateful.

Also a huge thanks to all the crowd-funders who backed the project and helped get me and the University’s cameras to South Africa.

A Little About Me (Tom Parry):

A Place For Penguins is my first ever film and the dissertation project for my recently completed Masters in Wildlife Filmmaking at the University Of The West Of England.

I have experience of the art world, having spent much of my life aspiring to be an artist and building a portfolio of work. In 2013, I put this on hold to go to University and study Zoology, during which I worked with wildlife biologists around the world and developed a strong appreciation for the intricacy and vulnerability of nature.

I’m now working for the BBC’s Natural History Unit on their next landmark series Seven Worlds.

Penguin Quiz Answer – Penguin Counting

magellanic penguins and gentoo penguins

And the correct answer to the number of Magellanic Penguins in the photo above: 16

Okay, yes, this was a challenging question. In fact, of all the people who answered, only 2 got it right!

Which ones are which? For reference, take a look at the circled penguins in the photo above. Those are all of the Magellanic Penguins. Some of them are juveniles, which might have thrown a few guesses off since their plumage is not as distinct. There is one penguin that is well hidden and took a lot analyzing to be sure, and it was the one with the two arrows. More on that below.

How to identify: Magellanic Penguins have two black stripes (and two white stripes) under their chin, with black bills, and black legs and feet. The rest of the penguins in the photo are all Gentoo Penguins. The distinguishing mark of the Gentoo is the white patch on top of its head, and they have orange bills with orange legs and feet. That’s your penguin identification lesson for the day.

Alright, now to discuss the penguin with the two arrows. This one is a challenge because it’s mostly hidden. Take a look at the arrow on the right. That arrow is pointing at the penguin’s head. If you look very closely, you can barely see the arc of the white crescent stripe that curves along the side of a Magellanic Penguin’s head. The arrow on the left is pointing toward the tail. If this was a Gentoo, there would be white showing here along the grass due to the Gentoo’s rounder, plumper body shape which pushes the white feathers on their upper legs out to the side enough to be seen. Instead, only black feathers are showing near the tail. So, based on these markings, that penguin is identified as a Magellanic.

Congratulations to the two winners:

  • Mackenzie S.
  • Jeff W.

Thanks to all for participating! We’ll have a new quiz in two weeks with more prizes.

The winners from today’s quiz will have a message sent to the email address they provided with instructions for receiving their 2019 Penguins International photo calendar. Great job, you are true masters of penguin identification!

Questions about this? Leave a comment below.

Penguin Quiz – Penguin Counting

Magellanic penguins and gentoo penguins

Here’s your chance to show off your knowledge of penguins. And your penguin-counting ability.

The challenge: Count only the Magellanic Penguins in the above photo.

The winner will be rewarded with a free 2019 Penguins International photo calendar. Wait — special for this quiz — the first two winners will receive a calendar. The calendar is posted here in our gift shop.

How to enter? Post your answer in the comments section at the bottom of this page. The first two people with the correct answer will receive a free calendar in the mail.

Remember, count and post only the number of Magellanic Penguins shown in the photo above.

Note: To keep it fair, the answers will be hidden until the afternoon. There will also be a delay in your comment appearing below. Don’t worry, your answer is recorded and time stamped. Check back in the morning for the correct answer and the names of the winners. Good luck!

SANCCOB Seabird Hospital Has Grand Opening For Its New Facility

Photo: Jenny Goldhawk-Smith

SANCCOB introduces their brand new state-of-the-art seabird hospital

SANCCOB has worked for many years to help South Africa’s seabirds, with particular attention focused on helping to save the endangered African Penguins. Just this past week, they have opened a brand new, high tech facility to not only make a big difference in the help and support they can offer sick and injured seabirds, but also to allow visitors to see their operations, learn more about seabirds, and get close to the birds they save.

Take a look at the video to see inside this new seabird hospital and the grand opening celebration:

Video courtesy of Jenny Goldhawk-Smith, JEN-NEWS

SANCCOB’s new facility is the “largest facility of its kind in southern Africa.”

SANCCOB is a 50 year old organisation that has been operating from prefabricated facilities in Table View, Cape Town, for the past 35 years. After receiving seed funding from the National Lotteries Commission, we embarked on a major fundraising drive to cover the shortfall and commenced construction in February 2017.

Our building work is complete and we now have a brand new state-of-the-art seabird hospital, the largest facility of its kind in southern Africa. Specialised areas include two new ICUs, a three-part wash bay area for oiled birds, two surgery rooms, X-ray room, an aviary, and pens and pools. The new centre will allow SANCCOB to increase its capacity to admit and rehabilitate more seabirds, improve our standard of care and educate more people about the plight of the endangered African Penguin species and other seabirds. We will also reopen to the public for educational tours and have a new shop facility at the centre.

~ Ronnis Daniel, SANCCOB Public Relations

Be sure to check out these videos to see their grand opening celebration and their recent release of rehabilitated African Penguins.

These penguins are found covered in oil from the nearby shipping vessels and the birds must be thoroughly washed and nursed back to health before they can be released. This video shows the amazing work SANCCOB does to save these penguins that would otherwise die if they weren’t helped by the dedicated staff at this seabird hospital.

Thanks SANCCOB for all you do!

Video courtesy of Jenny Goldhawk-Smith, JEN-NEWS

Visit their site to learn more: SANCCOB

And be sure to post comments below if you’ve visited SANCCOB or have stories to tell about African penguins.

African penguins don’t like the cold — read more about other penguins that love the heat!

Penguins International
PO Box 100483
Denver, CO 80250 USA
phone: 628-400-7301

Your Donation

Makes a Difference

Reach Out To Us

Kings on the beach mug

Huge penguin gift sale!!
Two days only. Visit our shop now!

Penguin Hug

Send a Pen Pal to Your Favorite Person

It’s like getting a hug from a Penguin

Brighten Someone’s Day for FREE

Email your favorite people a positive message. It’s a penguin post called a Pen Pal. Send as many as you want for FREE.

Send Your First Pen Pal Right Now!

Brighten Someone’s Day for FREE

Email your favorite people a positive message. It’s a penguin post called a Pen Pal. Send as many as you want for FREE.

Send Your First Pen Pal Right Now!