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Emperor Penguins

We all know what penguins look like. They look like featherless birds that hobble around and canÕt fly. We also know that most of them live in really cold places and swim like fish. No, despite what movies might have us believe, penguins do not like to go to Hawaii to participate in surfing competitions, and penguin chicks donÕt dance too much either. But penguins are definitely a very interesting animal especially the Emperor penguin.

The Emperor penguin is one of seventeen different species of penguins in the world. The Emperor penguin lives in AntarcticaÕs continental shelf and some surrounding islands. They are both native and, except for those that live at your local city zoo, exclusive to that area. I know that it is hard to imagine how cold Antarctica really is, but these penguins love it there. Emperor penguins live their entire lives either in the ice-cold waters of the Arctic coast or along the cold, open ice. Unlike all other animals in Antarctica, the Emperor penguin stays through the Arctic winter, which is the season that this unique penguin breeds.

So how cold is it in Antarctica? Where the Emperor penguin lives, it can get to be as cold as 80 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), which is pretty cold if you think that most of us donÕt see weather much colder than 10 degrees below zero. How can they survive? Emperor penguins have a big layer of fat that helps keep them warm. They also have waterproof feathers that help them stay dry even after a dip in icy waters. Since fish, squid and crustaceans make up the EmperorÕs diet, it needs special tools to survive and the Emperor penguin has it all and then some.

The Emperor penguin, just like all other penguins, has webbed feet that help it swim, waterproof feathers that help it stay dry and wings that look and act more like flippers than wings. But unlike all other penguins, the Emperor penguin can dive as deep as 700 feet underwater and hold its breath for up to 18 minutes! The ability to dive that deep and for that long makes the Emperor really good at finding all the food it needs. Other things that are special about the Emperor penguin are its size and its coloration.

An adult sized Emperor penguin weighs somewhere between 48 and 81 pounds and is about 3 feet 9 inches, or about the size a five-year-old boy, which makes it the largest penguin in the world. The Emperor is also more colorful than most other penguins, although you wouldnÕt know it if you saw one of their gray and black chicks. The Emperor is black all over except on the belly and neck area, where they are satin white. The colorful penguin also has yellow and orange or pink coloration around the neck and lower beak area.

Out of 17 different species of penguins in the world, one would be hard-pressed to say that there could be such a difference between one penguin and another. However, the Emperor penguin is such a different, and special creatures that one might even have to say that it stands out like a sore thumb. They may not surf or dance, but Emperor penguins are definitely worth watching.

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