Today is dedicated to celebrate the flightless birds – penguins! What better way to celebrate the World Penguin Day than to encourage people to learn more about them and to promote a global awareness.

Some species of penguins, like the Emperor, are already considered endangered due to climate change. Meanwhile, the Macaroni penguin currently has the highest population at 11,654,000 pairs, according to a statistics presented by Defenders of Wildlife.

| 📸 Joss Woodhead

“Penguins are the iconic species of the ice. The first time I saw emperor penguins in Antarctica, I was struck by their serene grace and intricate beauty,” Rod Downie, Polar Programme manager at the World Wildlife Fund, said in a statement.

“No other species is so perfectly adapted to survive the world’s harshest environment – Antarctica,” he added.

Here are 10 facts you should know about them!

1. 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.
2. Emperor penguins are the tallest, as they stand at nearly four-feet tall. Meanwhile, the smallest is the Little Blue penguin, who are only at 16 inches.

| 📸 Maciej Ostrowski

3. The Gentoo penguin is the fastest among the species, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.
4. A special gland behind the penguins’ eyes, called the supraorbital gland, filters saltwater from their blood stream and may be excreted through their beaks, or sneezing.
5. Many penguins mate with the same member of the opposite sex every season.

| 📸 Manon Buizert

6. Just like other animal species, penguins return to their exact nesting site in which they were born.
7. Some penguin species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and their loose feathers, but Emperor penguins are the only ones who incubate a single egg on the top of their feet. There is a featherless area with blood vessels that help keep their eggs warm.

| 📸 Ian Parker

8. Some male penguins are responsible for incubating the eggs, while females leave for weeks to hunt for their food.
9. Male and female penguin parents care for their young until the chicks are strong enough to hunt food on their own.
10. When a female Emperor penguin’s chick dies, she may have the tendency to “kidnap” another penguin’s chick.

Related stories:
– Albino penguin makes a debut at a Polish zoo
– Cool critters
– Invertebrates of Antarctica