A penguin is a type of flightless bird that lives along the coasts of the Southern Hemisphere, especially Antarctica, southern Africa, southern Australia and the southern and western coasts of South America. There are several species of penguins, and, as of 2015, some are considered to be threatened or endangered.
The different species of penguins come in a variety of sizes. The smallest penguin is the blue, or fairy, penguin, which grows to be about 16 inches tall and weighs about 2.2 pounds. On the opposite end of the scale is the large emperor penguin, which grows to be 3.7 feet tall and weighs up to 90 pounds. Penguins can, according to species, live between 15 and 20 years.
A penguin possesses characteristics that enable it to flourish in a cold, aquatic environment. Penguin wings function as flippers, enabling the bird to swim quickly through the water.
Penguins feed on a variety of aquatic creatures, such as fish, krill and squid. They often swallow their prey whole as they swim. Some penguins form social groups called rookeries during the mating season, which usually occurs during spring or summer. Depending on the species, penguins lay either one or two eggs, and incubate them for one month to 66 days.