The Return of the King Penguin

In my last post, emperor penguins conquered water, ice, frigid temperatures, hunger, vicious seals, and Shamu. Earth has seen many masters of the years. Sea monsters, giant sloths, dinosaurs, the Romans, Napoleon, Captain Planet, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Beanie Babies, and Chuck Norris have all risen to dominance over the course of history. A dark spell currently sits over the earth due to the influence of celebrities. Their evil powers have distracted peoples and crippled nations . But the age of the celebrities is fading and the time has come for the dawn of penguins. Everyone is eagerly anticipating the return of the King Penguin.

The first thing you’re probably wondering is, what is the difference between a King Penguin and an Emperor Penguin? Emperors are larger and have more authority than Kings. They also wield more power. Here are pictures of both penguins side by side for reference.

King penguin flapping wings, side viewEmperor penguin adult walking

The King Penguin is on the left, flapping his wings in a pitiful attempt to fly. These penguins are close relatives and have a similar appearance. Notice that the King Penguin has more golden-orange coloring around his throat, neck, and the back of his head. Kings are the 2nd largest penguins in the world, meaning they’re a little smaller than emperors.  Unlike their royally superior cousins, King Penguins do not enjoy hanging out on icy islands and prefer the warmer islands north of Antarctica. They still have layers of feathers and blubber to prepare them for cold and snow, but they also get to hang out around mountains and beaches.

King penguin pair in courtship

Penguin love often develops in beautiful, natural settings.

Male king penguin calling on beach

“I love the beach!!”

Like many other bird species, male King Penguins put a lot of effort into impressing the ladies. Sometimes males will engage in displays where it seems the purpose is to stretch their necks to determine who is taller.

Male king penguins displaying

“I’m taller!” “No, I’m taller!”

Once the female has laid an egg, King Penguin pairs take turns caring for the egg. At least the females don’t go on extended vacations like emperor penguins. When the egg hatches, the chick that emerges looks very different from its parents. In fact, some researchers once thought that the chicks were a different species! Chicks are lovingly cared for and provided with wonderful meals of regurgitated seafood. I guess the parent in the picture below could say that it literally bent over backwards for its child.

Adult king penguin feeding chick

Like emperors, King Penguins enjoy eating krill, squid, and fish. What’s that? You’re noticing I use Oxford commas? You bet I do! Anyway, one of the favorite foods of kings is the lanternfish. I guess kings enjoy bright meals because lanternfish glow in the dark. Hmm . . . do penguin stomachs glow in the dark after eating these fish?

Group of king penguins porpoising

FEEDING FRENZY!!

Here are a few other fun facts about King Penguins.

1. Because they live in warmer regions, these penguins have to find ways to cool down during the summer. This can be accomplished by jumping into the ocean or by taking a mud bath.

2. When huddled together in massive groups, King Penguins are able to locate their chicks by their calls!

3. Navy Fur Seals can be deadly to penguins. Watch this cool clip to see how King Penguins use their extraordinary speed and agility on land to evade lightning-fast seals –> (click on the link and then choose the video titled ‘seals hunting penguins’) http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/King_Penguin#p0038tmh

As you heard in the video, King Penguins are equipped with deadly swords, just like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. The King has come and the golden age of the penguins has begun! All hail King Penguin!

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