Penguins are one of the most recognisable birds in the world - and rightly so, as they're very special.

The black on their back and the white on their front is no coincidence - in fact, it helps camouflage them in the water with their backs blending in with the water from above and their front mixing with the sunlight from below.

Humboldt penguins are social animals and in the wild live in relatively large colonies along the coast of Chile and Peru. We have a colony of about 50 Humboldt penguins here at the zoo. They're part of a European breeding programme, so they're extremely important.

Our colony has an excellent breeding record and many of our youngsters have gone on to join breeding groups in other zoos.

They're astonishingly good swimmers - and can 'fly' through the water at up to 25mph! Our penguin habitat has an underwater viewing area where you'll get a great view. Humboldt penguins are very curious birds and may well pause mid-flight to watch you watching them!

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Interesting facts

Where they live: Pacific coast of South America

Habitat: Nest on islands and rocky coasts, burrowing holes in guano and sometimes using scrapes or caves.

Diet: Small fish (anchovies, herring, smelt) and crustaceans

Weight: 3.6-5.9kg

Size: Length: Up to 70cm

Threats: Historically, populations were threatened due to over-exploitation of guano. Currently, populations are declining due to limited food availability caused by overfishing and El Nino. Habitat destruction also threatens this species.