African black-footed penguin Spheniscus demersus
The African black-footed penguin is one of the 17 species of penguins found in the world. Of the 17, only seven are “cold weather” species. The African black-footed penguin is considered a “warm weather” penguin. If it’s below 40º, there’s a good chance our little guys and gals are inside, enjoying their toasty indoor quarters.
About the Memphis Zoo penguins
The Memphis Zoo is home to 22 penguins. No two penguins are exactly alike, but they are so similar, their keepers need to place colored bands on their flippers to tell them apart. Females have bands on their left wing, while males have bands on their right wing. The different colored beads on the bands let our keepers know exactly who is who. Our oldest penguin is 20 years old. He was hatched on January 16th, 2000. Incidentally, the Memphis Zoo has had penguins in our collection since 1987.
“Genevieve,” a female penguin with a solid purple band, has grey eyes. This is highly unusual for penguins, whose eyes normally turn to brown when they mature into adulthood. She has passed her grey eye trait to her offspring.
Penguins are an excellent example of countershading. If a predator is in the sky, the black of a penguin’s back might confuse them into thinking they are looking at the dark water. The white of the penguin’s belly might confuse a predator into thinking they’re looking at the white of the sky.
All black-footed penguins born here at the Memphis Zoo are hand-raised by the keepers beginning at 2-3 weeks of age.
Black-footed penguins are the species most often displayed in North American zoos and aquariums.