55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

Please note: The Academy will be closing at 3:00 pm on 10/24 (final entry at 2:00 pm). We apologize for any inconvenience.

There are no notifications at this time.

Live Penguin Cams 

March 10, 2009

Penguin Feeding


African penguins feed on anchovies Engraulis japonica and sardines Sardinops ocellata (two types of fish) in the Benguela current.  This is a cold water ocean current found close to their islands off South Africa.  They can travel for as far as 100 miles to fish for food and usually travel in groups of 8  or more.  Penguins feed on as much as 12-15% of their body weight.  This is equivalent to a 150 pound human eating 80 hamburgers in one meal.  Penguins burn through calories quickly, it takes a lot of energy to keep their body temperatures warm while swimming in the cool waters.  Their internal temperature is 102-103 degrees Fahrenheit and the water they swim in can be 48-60 degrees Fahrenheit.   We feed our penguins every day at 10:30am and 3:30pm.

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 4:42 pm


  1. Pam…I have been noticing the two penguins which have taken residence in the walkway by the area where the feedings take place. Why are they so territorial and why do they appear to be picking on the penguins. Tonight one of them kept after all the other penguins until he pushed them in water.


    Comment by lynn — March 12, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

  2. Hi Lynn, You are noticing “Dyer” and “Adasha”, they are siblings. Territory establishment is one of the highest priority in penguins. It ultimately defines the success of reproduction. Penguins move through other penguins’ territories by bowing their heads or by walking very quickly and erect (called “Slender Walk”). If a penguin does not display these behaviors when crossing into another penguin’s territory they are assumed to be challenging for dominancy or territory. This causes the penguins to defend their status/territory. There are 3 entrances and exits to the pool that the penguins use. The one Dyer and Adasha are located by during the evening is one of the three. The penguins can use one of the other options to exit the pool and avoid contact if they choose.

    Comment by pschaller — March 14, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  3. Thanks, Pam. Nature is so facinating. Thank you for taking the time to share the knowledge you have…it is fun to learn so much about penguins.

    Comment by lynn — March 14, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

  4. Hi Pam, it seems like some of the penguins don’t eat very much, how do you make sure that everyone gets her share? Are there only 2 feedings a day?

    Comment by Lori — March 19, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  5. Hi Lori, When you watch the feeding you may notice an additional staff member. This member is recording the amount that each penguin feeds on. We have records for all penguins that have lived here for every day they have been at the Academy. I also monitor size/girth of the penguin, both visually and with a scale. All 20 penguins have different appetites and metabolisms. Change in appetite indicate females about to lay eggs, birds about to replace feathers and when a penguin is stable. It is very important that we keep track of the birds individually.

    Comment by pschaller — March 20, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

  6. Wow. Thanks for the information. Now if only the penguins wore name tags, I’d be able to help you track their eating habits from the cam, too.

    Comment by Lori — March 26, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  7. Whoa. Major drama today at the morning feeding. We don’t have audio so I can’t listen in, so I have to ask what was up with the penguin that you kept dropping into the water. I think it was the same one. I couldn’t tell if he/she was biting you or not. Was the penguin having a bad day? And I think was I also privileged to witness the swimming behavior of an irate penguin.

    Comment by Lori — March 31, 2009 @ 10:57 am

  8. Hi Lori, Brenton was attacking molting penguins while they were feeding. I do not interfere if he is biting me but do intervene by placing him in the pool when he is especially asserting himself with penguins in molting condition. Brenton, along with all other juveniles are going through dramatic changes in their life as they are becoming sexually mature with asscociative hormones. This increases their interactive levels and will eventually result in their social development. The swimming behavior you observed is called porpoising, this is seen both in our environment and in the wild. Penguins swim like this to warm up and to avoid predators.

    Comment by pschaller — March 31, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  9. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Comment by sandra742 — September 9, 2009 @ 6:28 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment