What do Emperor Penguins Look Like

Emperor penguins are one of the most majestic looking marine birds, but have you ever asked yourself, what do emperor penguins look like? There are eighteen species of penguins in the world, and some of them are also considered endangered as they face ample risks from human activities and different kinds of predators.

Emperor penguins are one of the most recognizable penguin species because of their unique look and body structure that sets them apart from other penguins. Also, emperor penguins are known for their huddle which can include anywhere from ten to several hundred penguins. By huddling together, penguins save themselves from the brunt of the cold winds and also provide their chicks to escape from the cold by placing them in the middle of the huddle.

Let’s take a look at different features of emperor penguins that give them a distinctive look.


There are eighteen species of penguins and emperor penguins are the largest of those standing at 1.15 m (45 in.) tall. Adult emperor penguins weigh 22.7 to 45.4 kg (50 to 100 lb) with males weighing more than the female penguins.

Females lay one pear-shaped egg in the month of May or June and the male is tasked with incubating the egg until the egg is hatched. Male penguins incubate the egg in their brood pouch by balancing it on their feet and the female goes looking for food during this time and returns only when the egg is hatched.

Emperor Penguins Look Unique Because of their Neck Colors
Emperor Penguins Look Unique Because of their Neck Colors

Body Shape

The bodies of emperor penguins are streamlined like all other penguins. They are excellent swimmers and use their flippers in a flying motion to move through the water. Emperor penguins also have a thick layer of blubber under their skin that helps them to survive the cold waters and the pressure of water when they are underwater.

Penguins have flippers that are designed for underwater strokes that help them dive deeper and also swim faster when catching fish. When extended, the broad flippers are used for maintaining balance when penguins waddle or move on ice. Penguins also have sharp claws at their feet so that they can grip the ice strongly when facing cold and fast Antarctic winds.

Distinctive Color

Emperor penguins are different from king penguins because of the colors around their neck and bill. With a blue-grey neck and orange or bright yellow-gold ear patches, emperor penguins have a unique look that is easily recognizable.

The pale-yellow coloration on their breasts also makes them look distinctive as compared to other penguins in the Antarctic region. The emperor penguin chicks have a dense layer of woolly down on them that molts off as they get older to get replaced by feathers.

Emperor Penguins Look Majestic Because of Their Size
Emperor Penguins Look Majestic Because of Their Size


Penguins have small, scale-like feathers all over their body and these feathers help them to regulate their body temperature too. Adult emperor penguins have black feathers that cover their head, chin, throat, and back. Their tail and flippers also have small feathers. Penguins secrete a type of oil from their glands that they use to coat their feathers to provide a waterproof coating.

The belly and parts of their wings are white to aid with camouflage when they are swimming underwater. From below, the penguins look white as the sky and from above, they look black like the water giving them protection from predators both in water and the sky.


So, we hope by now you know what emperor penguins look like. As these are the biggest of all penguins, they are easily recognizable because of their size and the distinctive colored markings on their bill and around their ears.

Emperor penguins are also famous for being the only species of penguins that bear the harsh winter months in the Antarctic to hatch their eggs. In the months that male penguins incubate the eggs, they don’t eat anything and lose 12kg of their body weight. The female penguin returns only once the egg has hatched and then the male can go and hunt for fish and krill.

As beautiful and wonderful the emperor penguins are, they are facing the effect of global warming on their status being near-threatened by the IUCN. If you have any questions or queries about what the emperor penguins look like, please feel free to discuss in the comment section and our team will answer your questions at the earliest!



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I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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