Spotlight on: Cape Penguins

Not all penguins live in cold climates

Cape or African penguins are confined to the coast of South Africa and Namibia.

They are characterised by a single band of black feathers cutting across the breast and a circle of featherless skin that completely surrounds each eye.

This small patch helps them cope with high temperatures. The hotter the penguin gets, the more blood flows to the featherless patches where it is cooled by the surrounding air. Because of the increased blood flow, these bare patches get pinker as a penguin warms up.

Unfortunately Cape penguin populations have plummeted in recent years. While the number of breeding pairs may have been in the millions in the early 20th century, less than 42,000 individuals remain today. Habitat loss, over-fishing, and coastal development are having a severe impact.