Where do Emperor Penguins Live?

You might have seen emperor penguins in a zoo or on television, but have you ever asked yourself where do Emperor penguins live? The simple answer is that emperor penguins live in Antarctica. They move from the coast of Antarctica to the cold waters near the coast to hunt for krill and fish. They also bring up their young ones in the large colonies that they form all along the coast.

Emperor penguins are easily distinguished by the colorful patch of feathers around their necks and heads. They also have yellow patches around their ears and these face into the white feathers of their breast. Emperor penguin chicks also have a unique look as they have plumage and a white face patch.

The amazing thing about emperor penguins is that not only do they live in one of the most hostile regions on the planet, but they also breed during the Antarctic winter season, too. During the months of winter, the temperatures can reach 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing.

Emperor Penguins Live in the Harsh Antarctic Region
Emperor Penguins Live in the Harsh Antarctic Region

Emperor penguin colonies are spread across the Antarctic continent. The size of the colonies can range from sub-hundred penguins to over 20,000 pairs. Penguins choose to create their colonies on face-ice between the islands and grounded icebergs.

There are 46 known colonies of emperor penguins that are situated around the Antarctic continent. Their colonies located on fast ice (sea ice joined to a landmass) allow the adult penguins to reach feeding grounds easily. When the male penguins are incubating their chicks or rearing them, the location of their colony gives them easy access to feeding grounds. In 2009, the world population of emperor penguins was estimated at 595,000 breeding pairs. The conservation status of emperor penguins is near threatened because of the impact of climate and human activities on their habitat.

How Do Emperor Penguins Survive the Cold Antarctic Winter?

Emperor penguins have been blessed by nature with evolutionary abilities that make these marine birds excellently suited for cold regions. Their bodies are insulated with layers upon layers of scaled feathers.

Their bodies are also designed to minimize heat loss through their extremities as they have small flippers and bills. Most animals lose body heat through exhalation, but emperor penguins don’t even lose heat as their nasal chambers are uniquely designed for the minimal heat loss while breathing.

Emperor Penguins Live in Large Colonies in Antarctica
Emperor Penguins Live in Large Colonies in Antarctica

Another factor that helps emperor penguins in bearing the cold is the layer of fat that is present on their bodies. The layer of fat can help penguins survive without food for as long as 45 days. When temperatures fall below 60 degrees F, emperor penguins stop moving too much and simply huddle with other penguins to keep out of the cold winds and stay warm by sharing body heat with other penguins.

Huddling is also an important survival mechanism as it helps penguins to stay safe from any predators that might hunt solitary penguins. As emperor penguins are not territorial, they do not have any problems with other creatures claiming their territory. The huddle simply moves together as one creature when needed.

Emperor penguins are also adept at using their own body heat for maximum efficiency. The blood moving around in their body is pre-cooled as it moves away from the heart and it is warmed as it comes back to the heart. By regulating their blood temperature, emperor penguins are able to survive in the cold winds and low temperatures.

To live and survive on the ice, penguins have clawed feet that grip the ice when they have to stay still in hard blowing winds that can reach up to 89 mph. Their feet also have excessive fat deposits that prevent their feet from freezing in the cold Antarctic weather.


To sum up, emperor penguins live in the Antarctic region in the Southern Hemisphere. They build colonies to live and breed as living with other penguins helps them to survive the harsh weather of Antarctica. Emperor penguins are usually found in the deep south of Antarctica

Do you have any thoughts about where emperor penguins live? Please feel free to share your thoughts or ask any questions in the comment section. Our team will do its best to answer any of your questions about penguins.





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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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