8 Places to See Penguins Up Close in the Wild

8 Places to See Penguins Up Close in the Wild

Penguins are pretty popular birds and it’s not hard to see why: many species are very social and they’re charismatic, inhabiting some of the harshest habitat in the world. But where do penguins actually live? The answers might surprise you. Contrary to popular belief, no penguins live at the North Pole, yet they’re not strictly an Antarctic bird either. If you want to see penguins in their natural habitats, you can take a trip to 1 of these 8 places—and we guarantee at least a few of them have less snow than the Antarctic.

8. Gough Island

Not many people will have heard of Gough Island, and for good reason. This tiny island in the southern Atlantic is considered one of the most remote places to be inhabited by people permanently: the population is usually about 6 people, who staff a weather station maintained there. It is almost 1,800 miles from Cape Town in Africa and 2,000 miles from the nearest point of South America. Since the island is so remote, it is a sanctuary for wildlife, particularly seabirds. Among the birds that Gough Island provides breeding ground for is the endangered northern rockhopper penguin. Over 3,000 breeding pairs live on Gough Island. The island is pretty difficult to get to though, and it is a wildlife sanctuary, so you might choose “nearby” Tristan da Cunha as your getaway—although you’d still better be prepared to pay for passage there.

Gough Island Rockhopper penguin

7. Galapagos

You’ve heard of the Galapagos Islands, if not because of the giant tortoises that live there, then because that’s where Charles Darwin did his famous study of finches in the 19th century. But finches and tortoises aren’t the only creatures that inhabit these equatorial islands: the Galapagos penguin also lives there. It is the only species of penguin to live north of the equator, a feat made possible by the cooling effect of the Humboldt Current. Closely related to other banded penguins, the Galapagos penguins have several adaptations to their environment, such as panting to cool their airways and deferring breeding under less than optimal conditions. The species is considered endangered, although the population has been slowly recovering after an alarming decline in the 1980s. About 90 percent of the penguins live on Fernandina Island and Isabela Island.

Galapagos penguins
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