Aptenodytes Forsteri

Last updated: April 19, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Spends 75% of it's time hunting for food!

Penguin Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Aptenodytes Forsteri

Penguin Conservation Status

Penguin Locations

Penguin Locations

Penguin Facts

Main Prey
Fish, Crabs, Squid
Distinctive Feature
Short, sharp beak and slight webbed feet
60cm - 130cm (23.6in - 21in)
Cold seas and rocky land
Leopard Seals, Sharks, Killer Whale
  • Group
Favorite Food
Average Clutch Size
Spends 75% of it's time hunting for food!

Penguin Physical Characteristics

  • Grey
  • Yellow
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
Top Speed
40 mph
20 - 30 years
1kg - 35kg (2.2lbs - 75lbs)
40cm - 110cm (15.7in - 43in)

Penguin Images

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Penguins are one of the most beloved animals on the planet!

Their tuxedo coloring, adorable waddle, and cute faces make penguins one of the most beloved animals in the world. From the equatorial deserts of Africa to the Nordic grasslands of Scandinavia, humans can’t help but ooooh and awww over the aquatic, flightless birds! A lot of folks mistakenly believe that penguins only live in the North and South Poles, but in reality, they live throughout the Southern Hemisphere. One species even nests close to the equator. However, none live in or around the Arctic Circle.

Scientists are locked in a debate about penguin taxonomy and genetic links, but they all agree that at least 15 species currently inhabit the earth.

Fun and Fascinating Penguin Facts

  • Human-sized penguins waddled around the Earth in prehistoric times. The Anthropornis nordenskjoeldi reached heights of 1.8 meters (5 feet 11 inches) and tipped the scale at 90 kilograms (200 pounds). The emergence of large-toothed whales and seals likely led to the extinction of giant penguins.
  • In 1948, a Florida man named Tony fashioned himself a pair of 30-pound, three-toed lead shoes and stomped around beaches at night to further a myth that a 15-foot-tall penguin ruled the surf at night. He did it for ten years, never got caught, and didn’t reveal the hoax until 40 years later.
  • Penguins’ black and white coloring is defensive camouflage.
  • Despite the Falkland’s active landmines, the island cluster has morphed into a makeshift nature preserve for penguins because the animals are too lightweight to trigger the mines.
  • The oldest known penguin species in the fossil record is the Waimanu manneringi, which lived 62 million years ago.

Penguin Scientific Name

The exact etymology of the word “penguin” is up for debate. The word first appeared in the 1700s as a synonym for the great auk, a now-extinct marine bird that sported similar coloring to penguins but wasn’t related. Some believe the made-up synonym derived from the French word “pingouin,” which sailors used for auk birds.

The Oxford English Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster credit Welsh with the word. They hypothesize that penguin was a mash-up of “pen” — the Welsh word for head — and “gwyn” — the Welsh word for white — because great auks were first seen on White Head Island in Newfoundland.

Other linguists believe penguin has Latin roots, linking it to the word “pinguis,” meaning “fat” or “oil.” They pin this theory on a Germanic word for penguin, “fettgans,” which translates to “fat goose,” and a Dutch word for the animal, “vetgans,” which also roughly translates to “fat goose.”

Types of Penguins

Aptenodytes (great penguins) Aptenodytes patagonicus A. p. Patagonicus / A. p. halli King penguin
Aptenodytes (great penguins) Aptenodytes forsteri None Emperor penguin
Pygoscelis (brush-tailed penguins) Pygoscelis adeliae None Adélie penguin
Pygoscelis (brush-tailed penguins) Pygoscelis antarctica None Chinstrap penguin, Ringed penguin, Bearded penguin, Stonecracker penguin
Pygoscelis (brush-tailed penguins) Pygoscelis papua None Gentoo penguin
Eudyptula (little penguins) Eudyptula minor E. m. variabilis / E. m. chathamensis

Little penguin taxonomy is still very much fluid and disputed.
Little blue penguin, Little penguin, Fairy penguin, Māori name: Kororā
Eudyptula (little penguins) Eudyptula novaehollandiae Little penguin taxonomy is still very much fluid and disputed. Australian little penguin
Eudyptula (little penguins) Eudyptula albosignata Little penguin taxonomy is still very much fluid and disputed. White-flippered penguin
Spheniscus (banded penguins) Spheniscus magellanicus None Magellanic penguin
Spheniscus (banded penguins) Spheniscus humboldti None Humboldt penguin
Spheniscus (banded penguins) Spheniscus mendiculus None Galapagos penguin
Spheniscus (banded penguins) Spheniscus demersus None African penguin, Cape penguin, South African penguin
Megadyptes Megadyptes antipodes None Yellow-eyed penguin, Hoiho, Tarakaka
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes pachyrhynchus None Fiordland penguin, Fiordland crested penguin, New Zealand crested penguin, Māori name: Tawaki or Pokotiwha
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes robustus None Snares penguin
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes sclateri None Erect-crested penguin
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes chrysocome E. c. chrysocome /

E. c. filholi – Eastern
Southern rockhopper penguin
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes filholi The eastern rockhopper penguin is considered a subspecies of the southern rockhopper penguin by some scientists and its own species by others. Eastern rockhopper penguin
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes moseleyi None Northern rockhopper penguin
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes schlegeli (disputed) Some scientists think Eudyptes schlegeli penguins are a subspecies of Macaroni penguins. Others disagree. Royal penguin
Eudyptes (crested penguins) Eudyptes chrysolophus Some scientists think Eudyptes schlegeli penguins are a subspecies of Macaroni penguins. Others disagree. Macaroni penguin

Penguin Appearance and Behavior

Penguin Appearance

Penguins are animals with a signature look: black backs and white fronts. The technical term for their coloring is “counter-shading.” It’s an evolutionary advantage that serves as spectacular camouflage because penguin predators have difficulty distinguishing between a white underbelly and reflective water surface. On land, the black back helps penguins blend into the rocky terrain on which many species nest and breed.

They may look sleek and leathery, but penguins are covered in animals that are feathers, and their plumage serves two primary purposes. Firstly, it helps with buoyancy and contributes to their agile swimming skills. Secondly, penguin feathers act as insulation, which allows the birds to withstand frigid water and air temperatures.

Several penguin species have a distinct aesthetic flare. Rockhoppers sport fancy crests and feathers on their heads. Chinstrap penguins feature a white band across their jaw areas, and golden feathers adorn the necks and heads of giant penguins. Cape penguins don distinctive pink patches above their eyes, and little blue penguins have blue-tinted feathers instead of jet black.

Every so often, a penguin is born with light-brown feathers instead of black. They’re known as isabelline penguins, and they tend to live shorter lives because of their inferior camouflage — but they are beautiful!

chinstrap penguin - Pygoscelis antarctica - penguin with chin markings looking at camera

Average Sizes of Penguin Species

Aptenodytes patagonicus 70 to 100 centimeters (28 to 39 inches) 9.3 to 18 kilograms (21 to 40 pounds)
Aptenodytes forsteri 122 centimeters (48 inches) 22 to 45 kilograms (49 to 99 pounds)
Pygoscelis adeliae 46 to 71 centimeters (18 to 28 inches) 3.6 to 6.0 kilograms (7.9 to 13.2 pounds)
Pygoscelis antarctica 68 to 76 centimeters (27 to 30 inches) 3.2 to 5.3 kilograms (7.1 to11.7 pounds)
Pygoscelis papua 51 to 90 centimeters (20 to 35 inches) 4.9 to 8.5 kilograms (11 to 19 pounds)
Eudyptula minor 30 to 33 centimeters (12 to 13 inches) 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds)
Eudyptula novaehollandiae 30 to 33 centimeters (12 to 13 inches) 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds)
Eudyptula albosignata 30 centimeters (12 inches) 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds)
Spheniscus magellanicus 61 to 76 centimeters (24 to 30 inches) 2.7 to 6.5 kg (6.0 to 14.3 pounds)
Spheniscus humboldti 56 to 70 centimeters (22 to 28 inches) 3.6 to 5.9 kilograms (8 to13 pounds)
Spheniscus mendiculus 49 centimeters (19 inches) 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds)
Spheniscus demersus 60 to 70 centimeters (24 to 28 inches) 2.2 to 3.5 kilograms (4.9 to 7.7 pounds)
Megadyptes antipodes 62 to 79 centimeters (24 to 31 inches) 3 to 8.5 kilograms (6.6 to 18.7 pounds)
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus 60 centimeters (24 inches) 3.7 kilograms (8.2 pounds)
Eudyptes robustus 50 to 70 centimeters (19.5 to 27.5 inches) 2.5 to 4 kilograms (5.5 to 8.8 pounds)
Eudyptes sclateri 50 to 70 centimeters (20 to 28 inches) 2.5 to 6 kilograms (5.5 to 13.2 pounds)
Eudyptes chrysocome 5 to 58 centimeters (18 to 23 inches) 2 to 4.5 kilograms (4.4 to 9.9 pounds)
Eudyptes filholi 45 to 55 centimeters (17.7 to 21.6 inches) 2.2 to 4.3 kilograms (4.9 to 9.4 pounds)
Eudyptes schlegeli 65 to 76 centimeters (26 to 30 inches) 3 to 8 kilograms (6.6 to 17.6 pounds)
Eudyptes chrysolophus 70 centimeters (28 inches) 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds)

Penguin Behavior

When land-bound and standing upright, penguins use their tails and wings for balance. If time is of the essence, penguins slide on their bellies and use their feet to propel and steer. The technique is called “tobogganing.” Penguins are also skilled jumpers and do so when traversing prickly terrain.

Penguins are very social animals that hang out in large groups called colonies. As such, they’ve developed vocal and visual communication skills and standards. Adult male penguins are “cocks,” and females are “hens.” A group of penguins on land is called a “waddle”; a group in the water is a “raft.”

Penguin Habitats

Wild penguins live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, save for banded penguins, which live near the equator and sometimes migrate into the Northern Hemisphere. Significant populations exist in Angola, Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Falkland Islands. Furthermore, penguins in captivity live in zoos and animal sanctuaries around the world.

The chart below details specific habitat regions for the different penguin species.

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Primary Locations of Penguin Species Around the World

Aptenodytes patagonicus King penguin Islands in the South Atlantic and South Indian Oceans
Aptenodytes forsteri Emperor penguin Islands in the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Region
Pygoscelis adeliae Adélie penguin Antarctic Continent, Southern Ocean
Pygoscelis antarctica Chinstrap penguin Islands in the Southern Pacific and Antarctic Oceans
Pygoscelis papua Gentoo penguin Islands in the Antarctic Region, Falkland Islands, South Georgia
Eudyptula minor Little blue penguin New Zealand, Chile, South Africa
Eudyptula novaehollandiae Australian little penguin Australia
Eudyptula albosignata White-flippered penguin Banks Peninsula, Motunau Island
Spheniscus magellanicus Magellanic penguin Argentina, Chile, Falkland Islands
Spheniscus humboldti Humboldt penguin Pinguino de Humboldt National Reserve in Northern Chile, Peru
Spheniscus mendiculus Galapagos penguin Archipiélago de Colón
Spheniscus demersus Cape penguin Southwestern African Coast
Megadyptes antipodes Yellow-eyed penguin New Zealand Coasts and Islands
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus Fiordland penguin Southwestern New Zealand Coasts and Surrounding Islands
Eudyptes robustus Snares penguin Snares Islands
Eudyptes sclateri Erect-crested penguin Bounty and Antipodes Islands
Eudyptes chrysocome Southern rockhopper penguin Subantarctic of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans
Eudyptes filholi Eastern rockhopper penguin Prince Edward, Crozet, Kerguelen, Heard, Macquarie, Campbell, Auckland, and the Antipodes Islands
Eudyptes moseleyi Northern rockhopper penguin Tristan da Cunha, Inaccessible Island, Gough Island
Eudyptes schlegeli (disputed) Royal penguin Subantarctic islands, Macquarie Island
Eudyptes chrysolophus Macaroni penguin Islands in Subantarctic and Antarctic Peninsula

Penguin Diet

All penguins are carnivores that dine on marine life. They’re pescatarians! Specific diets, however, are regionally dependent. The chart below details the regular menu for each animal.

What Different Species of Penguins Eat

Aptenodytes patagonicus King penguin lanternfish, squid, krill
Aptenodytes forsteri Emperor penguin fish, crustaceans, cephalopods, Antarctic silverfish, glacial squid, hooked squid, Antarctic krill
Pygoscelis adeliae Adélie penguin Antarctic krill, ice krill, Antarctic silverfish, sea krill, glacial squid
Pygoscelis antarctica Chinstrap penguin small fish, krill, shrimp, squid
Pygoscelis papua Gentoo penguin fish, krill, squat lobsters, squid
Eudyptula minor Little blue penguin clupeoid fish, cephalopods, crustaceans, arrow squid, slender sprat, Graham’s gudgeon, red cod, ahuru, barracouta, anchovy, arrow squid
Eudyptula novaehollandiae Australian little penguin pilchards, anchovies, cephalopods, crustaceans
Eudyptula albosignata White-flippered penguin Very little is known about the white-flippered penguin, including diet specifics.
Spheniscus magellanicus Magellanic penguin cuttlefish, squid, krill
Spheniscus humboldti Humboldt penguin krill, small crustaceans, squid, fish
Spheniscus mendiculus Galapagos penguin small fish, mullet, sardines
Spheniscus demersus Cape penguin sardines, anchovies, squid, small crustaceans
Megadyptes antipodes Yellow-eyed penguin blue cod, red cod, opalfish, New Zealand blueback sprat, arrow squid
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus Fiordland penguin arrow squid, krill, red cod, hoki
Eudyptes robustus Snares penguin krill, small fish, cephalopods
Eudyptes sclateri Erect-crested penguin small fish, krill, squid
Eudyptes chrysocome Southern rockhopper penguin krill, squid, octopus, lantern fish, mollusks, plankton, cuttlefish, crustaceans
Eudyptes filholi Eastern rockhopper penguin small fish, octopus, squid, and krill-like crustaceans
Eudyptes moseleyi Northern rockhopper penguin krill, crustaceans, squid, octopus, fish
Eudyptes schlegeli (disputed) Royal penguin krill, fish, squid
Eudyptes chrysolophus Macaroni penguin krill, crustaceans, cephalopods

Penguin Predators and Threats

Climate change is a massive threat for several penguin species, and marine-life conservationists are working against time to develop solutions. Natural penguin predators include leopard seals, sharks, killer whales, fur seals, and sea lions.

Penguin Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Penguin Reproduction

Penguins breed on either ice blocks or rocky outcrops. Except for yellow-eyed and Fiordland species, penguins breed in large colonies, ranging from 100 pairs to hundreds of thousands for the chinstrap, king, and Macaroni.

Penguins stay monogamous for the breeding season, but chinstrap penguins often mate for life! Most pairs produce two eggs per clutch. Larger penguins, aka the “great penguins,” only lay one. Most species only lay one brood per mating season, but little penguins may lay several.

Relative to adult penguins’ sizes, their eggs are small. However, the shells are extra-thick and serve as protection against rough terrain. Fascinatingly, when Aptenodytes forsteri (emperor penguins) lose an egg or a chick, they try to kidnap another pair’s offspring. Penguin snatching seldom succeeds, but it doesn’t stop them from trying!

Aptenodytes forsteri males handle all the incubation duties. Both parents share responsibility in the other species. Incubation shifts can last days or weeks while one parent heads out to forage for food.

Penguin Babies

Baby penguins are called “chicks” or “nestlings.” When they gather in a group, it’s called a “crèches.” Newborn penguins are dependent on their parents until they grow waterproof feathers. For some species, that may only be seven to nine weeks. For other species, it may be as long as 13 months.

Penguin Lifespans

A penguin’s life expectancy is dependent on species, but ranges from 6 to 30 years.

Average Lifespan of Penguin Species

Aptenodytes patagonicus King penguin 26 Years
Aptenodytes forsteri Emperor penguin 20 Years
Pygoscelis adeliae Adélie penguin 20 Years
Pygoscelis antarctica Chinstrap penguin 15 to 20 Years
Pygoscelis papua Gentoo penguin 13 Years
Eudyptula minor Little blue penguin 6 Years
Eudyptula novaehollandiae Australian little penguin 7 Years
Eudyptula albosignata White-flippered penguin 15 to 20 Years
Spheniscus magellanicus Magellanic penguin 30 Years
Spheniscus humboldti Humboldt penguin 15 to 20 Years
Spheniscus mendiculus Galapagos penguin 15 to 20 Years
Spheniscus demersus Cape penguin 10 to 27 Years
Megadyptes antipodes Yellow-eyed penguin 23 Years
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus Fiordland penguin 10 to 20 Years
Eudyptes robustus Snares penguin 11 years
Eudyptes sclateri Erect-crested penguin 15 to 20 Years
Eudyptes chrysocome Southern rockhopper penguin 10 Years
Eudyptes filholi Eastern rockhopper penguin 10 Years
Eudyptes moseleyi Northern rockhopper penguin 10 Years
Eudyptes schlegeli (disputed) Royal penguin 15 to 20 Years
Eudyptes chrysolophus Macaroni penguin 8 to 15 Years

Penguin Population

Some penguin species are stable. Climate change and human encroachment, however, are pushing others closer to extinction. Below, is an outline of penguin population estimates, in addition to their conservation status according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Penguin Population Estimates and Conservation Status

Aptenodytes patagonicus King penguin 2.2 to 3.2 Million Breeding Pairs Least Concern (IUCN)
Aptenodytes forsteri Emperor penguin 130,000 to 250,000 Breeding Pairs Near Threatened (IUCN)
Pygoscelis adeliae Adélie penguin 4.5 Million Breeding Pairs Least Concern (IUCN)
Pygoscelis antarctica Chinstrap penguin 7.5 Million Breeding Pairs Least Concern (IUCN)
Pygoscelis papua Gentoo penguin 387,000 Breeding Pairs Least Concern (IUCN)
Eudyptula minor Little blue penguin 350,000 to 600,000 Individual Animals Least Concern (IUCN)
Eudyptula novaehollandiae Australian little penguin 350,000 to 600,000 Individual Animals Least Concern (IUCN)
Eudyptula albosignata White-flippered penguin 3,750 Breeding Pairs Threatened (ESA)
Spheniscus magellanicus Magellanic penguin 1.3 Million Breeding Pairs Near Threatened (IUCN)
Spheniscus humboldti Humboldt penguin 32,000 Adult Individuals Vulnerable (IUCN)
Spheniscus mendiculus Galapagos penguin Less Than 1,000 Breeding Pairs Endangered (IUCN)
Spheniscus demersus Cape penguin Less Than 40,000 Individual Adults Endangered (IUCN)
Megadyptes antipodes Yellow-eyed penguin 4,000 Individual Adults Endangered (IUCN)
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus Fiordland penguin 3,000 Breeding Pairs Vulnerable (IUCN) / Endangered (DOC)
Eudyptes robustus Snares penguin 25,000 Breeding Pairs Vulnerable (IUCN)
Eudyptes sclateri Erect-crested penguin 150,000 Adult Individuals Endangered (IUCN)
Eudyptes chrysocome Southern rockhopper penguin 1.5 Million Pairs (For All Rockhopper Penguins) Vulnerable (IUCN)
Eudyptes filholi Eastern rockhopper penguin 1.5 Million Pairs (For All Rockhopper Penguins) Vulnerable (IUCN)
Eudyptes moseleyi Northern rockhopper penguin 100,000 to 499,999 Breeding Pairs at Gough Island, 18,000 to 27,000 Pairs At Inaccessible Island, 3,200 to 4,500 on Tristan da Cunha Endangered (IUCN)
Eudyptes schlegeli (disputed) Royal penguin 1.5 Million Pairs (For All Rockhopper Penguins) Near Threatened (IUCN)
Eudyptes chrysolophus Macaroni penguin 18 Million Individuals Vulnerable (IUCN)

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Penguin FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are penguins Herbivores, Carnivores, or Omnivores?

Penguins are carnivores who eat a seafood-based diet of various marine life, including squid, krill, fish, and crustaceans.

Why don't penguins fly?

Although penguins have wings, unlike most other bird species, they can not fly. However, their wings still get a lot of use since they have evolved to help penguins swim! In a way, they are just flying underwater.

Why do penguins waddle?

As an observer, seeing a penguin waddle may not seem like a very efficient way of moving, but it is actually a great use of their short legs and big feet – which evolved that way for swimming. By swaying back and forth and using gravity to their advantage, penguins are able to move without wasting unnecessary energy.

Are Penguins Dangerous?

Generally, penguins aren’t afraid of humans. Nor do they act aggressively. However, penguins typically don’t get closer than 3 meters (9 feet) to people and humans should respect their space as well.

The story of Lala testifies to penguins’ affinity with people. Found tangled in a fisherman’s net with a broken beak and wing, Lala found temporary salvation on the rescue vessel. Once they returned home, the fisherman gave Lala to the Nishimoto family, the neighborhood animal doctors, who built him a refrigerated room and nursed him back to health! Lala grew so attached to the family that he didn’t want to leave. So every day, Lala accompanied the family to the fish market. Soon, he started going by himself and dutifully returning to his refrigerated palace! In short order, everyone in town had met the popular penguin, and Lala started running errands for the family using a specially designed backpack!

Although penguins are gentle animals, it’s always wise to keep one’s distance unless a trained handler is around.

What Are Some Interesting Facts About Penguins?

  • It’s not uncommon for penguins to form same-sex couplings.

  • Magellanic penguins have a special salt-clearing gland that allows them to drink as much ocean water as they wish without adverse effects.

  • Macaroni penguins consume more marine animals than any other seabird.

  • Penguins spend between 50 to 75 percent of their time in the water, depending on species.

  • The nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French ruler, was instrumental in outlining penguin taxonomy.

What Kingdom do Penguins belong to?

Penguins belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum do Penguins belong to?

Penguins belong to the phylum Chordata.

What class do Penguins belong to?

Penguins belong to the class Aves.

What family do Penguins belong to?

Penguins belong to the family Spheniscidae.

What order do Penguins belong to?

Penguins belong to the order Sphenisciformes.

What type of covering do Penguins have?

Penguins are covered in Feathers.

In what type of habitat do Penguins live?

Penguins live in cold seas and rocky land.

What is the main prey for Penguins?

Penguins prey on fish, crabs, and squid.

What are some distinguishing features of Penguins?

Penguins have short, sharp beaks and slight webbed feet.

What are some predators of Penguins?

Predators of Penguins include leopard seals, sharks, and killer whales.

What is the average clutch size of a Penguin?

Penguins typically lay 1 egg.

What is the scientific name for the Penguin?

The scientific name for the Penguin is Aptenodytes Forsteri.

What is the lifespan of a Penguin?

Penguins can live for 20 to 30 years.

What is the Penguin's wingspan?

The Penguin has a wingspan of 60cm to 130cm.

How do Penguins have babies?

Penguins lay eggs.

  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
  7. Christopher Perrins, Oxford University Press (2009) The Encyclopedia Of Birds

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