Yellow-Eyed Penguin

December 13, 2022

The yellow-eyed penguin is native to New Zealand and incredibly rare. They are the only animal left in their genus and are thought to be the most ancient penguin of all living penguin species. It has the scientific name Megadyptes antipodes. Like most penguins, these birds are flightless and spend most of their time at sea hunting for food. The yellow-eyed penguin is distinct from other penguins because of its yellow feathers around its eyes and shrouding the back of its head. And, of course, they have yellow eyes.

By 2007 there were fewer than 5,000 birds and only two nesting regions in New Zealand; therefore, the yellow-eyed penguin is considered to be endangered. There is little possibility of genetic exchange between the mainland and island penguin groups because they are too far apart. A big colony of yellow-eyed penguins on the Otago Peninsula has become a tourist attraction.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Fun Facts

  • Recent scientific research discovered that these penguins are not related to Little Penguins. Their closest relative is now extinct.
  • Yellow-eyed penguins are the only species left in their penguin family.
  • Like most penguins, these birds form long-term breeding pairs that don't nest in large groups. Instead, they prefer some distance and isolation.
  • Breeding pairs produce one or two eggs, with mom and dad taking turns incubating them.
  • One parent goes out for food, and the other guards the chick(s) until they are too big for predators.
  • The breeding group on the Otago Peninsula is a tourist attraction where people can go and see the penguins disturbing them via tunnels and observation windows.
  • Other names for the Yellow Eyed Penguin are "hoiho" and "tarakaka."
  • These birds are the rarest penguins, and their numbers are dropping.
  • In the United States, the yellow-eyed penguin has protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Internationally, The yellow-eyed penguin has protection on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species


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