12 Penguin Portraits Show Off Big Personalities

Celebrate World Penguin Day, April 25, with stunning pictures of these beloved birds.

With their charismatic nature, signature tuxedo look, and unique mating rituals, penguins are among Earth's most beloved creatures.

The 18 species differ greatly in size, from the four-foot-tall emperor penguins, regal birds native to the rugged coastlines of Antarctica, to the little blue penguin of southern Australia and New Zealand, which grow to just 13 inches tall. 

Many penguins thrive in harsh climates, such as the Adélie, which has survived in Antarctica for nearly 45,000 years. Flightless and aquatic, penguins live almost entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, where they chase after small prey with expert diving and swimming skills.

Penguins are known for their remarkable relationship habits—for instance, the birds are largely monogamous despite spending most the year apart. During mating season, males will seek out the same female every year, despite the crowds of hundreds or even thousands of other birds that live in their colony.

Unfortunately, some penguins have fallen victim to the effects of climate change. Antarctic researchers believe that climate change will reduce their nesting habitat and supply of food, particularly krill.

Warming seas and rising regional air temperatures have already caused penguin populations to plunge by as much as 50 percent in the past three decades in the West Antarctic Peninsula and the Scotia Sea.

For April 25, World Penguin Day, we put together our best photographs of these gorgeous, comical birds.

MACARONI PENGUIN The macaroni penguin, Eudyptes Chrysolophus, gets its name from its trademark yellow and black crest, which resembles a style of hat from 18th-century England.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

LITTLE BLUE PENGUIN Two baby little blue penguins, Eudyptula minor, sport brown fuzzy feathers. The nocturnal species nests on land, often near human settlements.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

KING PENGUIN The king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus, is an excellent diver, going as deep as a thousand feet in search of prey.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

AFRICAN PENGUIN Also known as the jackass or black-footed penguin, the African penguin (pictured at the Bramble Park Zoo) live in large colonies along Africa's southwestern coast, from Namibia to South Africa.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

CHINSTRAP PENGUIN Five chinstrap penguins, Pygoscelis Antarctica, gather at the Newport Aquarium. Named for the distinctive black band under their chins, chinstraps are the most abundant Antarctic penguin, breeding in huge colonies on the continent and islands in the South Atlantic.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

FIORDLAND CRESTED PENGUIN Considered endangered in New Zealand, the Fiordland crested penguin (pictured at the Taronga Zoo) is often preyed upon by introduced predators, such as the stoat.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

LITTLE BLUE PENGUIN A little blue penguin seems to pose at SPCA Bird Wing, a bird rehab centre in Auckland, New Zealand.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

SOUTHERN ROCKHOPPER PENGUIN Rockhoppers are found bounding—rather than waddling, as most other penguins do—among the craggy, windswept shorelines of the islands north of Antarctica, from Chile to New Zealand.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

HUMBOLDT PENGUIN Found off Peru and Chile, this species has been steadily declining and is now considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Extreme weather and shifts in prey seem to be driving the decline.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

ADÉLIE PENGUIN An Adélie penguin poses at the Faunia Zoo in Madrid, Spain. Both male and female penguins help rear the young and, without close inspection, the two sexes are nearly indistinguishable.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

GENTOO PENGUIN The long-tailed gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis Papua, is most easily distinguished by the white, bonnet-like marking on its head.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

Header Image: SOUTH GEORGIAN KING PENGUIN A pair of South Georgia king penguins, Aptenodytes patagonicus patagonicus, show off their brilliant plumage. King penguins have four layers of feathers and huddle together for warmth. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

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