Michigan University's Museum of Zoology indicates that the primary enemies, or predators, of emperor penguins are giant petrels, Antarctic skuas, leopard seals and killer whales. Petrels and skuas, both cold-weather birds, feed on chicks within penguin colonies. Estimates suggest that 7 to 34 percent of chicks become prey.
Leopard seals hunt young penguins when they go to the sea, but adult emperors are also targets. Killer whales tend to go after fully grown birds. Emperor penguins keep watch for predators and warn others in their colonies when danger approaches. In addition, National Geographic states that when emperor penguins are in the water, they are capable of sudden, short bursts of speed that help them elude seals.