Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Staying Cool

Out of the 18 species of penguins only two of them live around Antarctica year round. Most penguin species live in temperate and even tropical climates. These penguins need to be able to stay warm in the cold ocean water, but they also need a way to stay cool to avoid overheating.

First, penguins have the ability to individually raise and lower each of their feathers, releasing trapped body heat.

Raising feathers

You may see our rockhopper penguins standing with either both wings or one wing sticking straight out, this exposes the highly vascularized underside of the wings releasing heat and cooling the blood.

Rockhopper cooling off with both wings outstretched

Rockhopper with one wing outstretched

African penguins have a patch of bare skin with no feathers around their eyes. This is called a heat window. This bare skin along with their bare feet allows for heat to escape. As the penguin gets warm the heat window will flush or become vibrant pink.

The heat window is the bare patch of skin above and in front of this African penguin's eye

When all else fails, standing in front of the air conditioner will cool you off, like our rockhopper penguins. The Rockhopper Island AC vents provide cool air to the rockhopper penguins.

Rockhopper penguin with wings outstretched

- Andrea


  1. nice blog! The information was very helpful and the pictures are great!

  2. What is the name of the male rockhopper penguin with the yellow arm band?