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Golden Gate Park
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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.

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January 31, 2009

African penguin Plumage: Belly Spots

This is Pomona, she hatched on 23 October 2007.  She has an Orange band on her left wing and a Gold band on her right wing.  The large black spot on her belly is also an easy way to identify her.  The belly spots on an African penguin are different for every bird.  This is similar to our fingerprints.  There is a computer identification program being used in the wild in order to track individual penguins.  This aids researchers in keeping record of the penguin’s time spent at sea and their behavior.-Pamela Schaller

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony,Penguin Science,Wild Penguins — Penguins @ 6:06 pm


  1. What a beautiful creature! I do not have a fully lighted view of
    her head but hope to be at the Science building to see her in “person”!
    Can we take camera shots of the animals? I want to do that if possible.
    I am a native of the Bay Area but certain restrictions have interrupted my normally easy access to San Francisco. Hoping to overcome those I look forward
    to visiting the Science Academy; it is rather embarrassing (to myself)
    to realize I have not yet seen the new Academy. However it will be
    all the more marvelous having waited for my visit. Sincerely, EAM

    Comment by Elizabeth — January 31, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

  2. When do you know that penguins need food?

    Comment by Noah — February 1, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  3. Elizabeth, Kianga has a very dark head as she still has her juvenile feathers. Yes, you can take photos of the penguins when you visit us. There are a few animals that are nervous with camera flashes and those animals have signs on their homes.

    Comment by pschaller — February 3, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  4. Noah, Penguins eat about 15% of their body weight every day. This is the equivalent to an adult human eating about 80 hamburgers in one meal. They approach me quickly when they are hungry and when they are full, they do not come over for food any more.

    Comment by pschaller — February 3, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  5. Are there plans to post feeding times for the penguins? I was lucky to “bump” into feeding time on one of my visits. One of the penguins was quite a character as it was dancing under the water hose as you were cleaning the penguin environment.

    Comment by jean — February 3, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

  6. Jean, Penguin Feedings are at 10:30 and 3:30, glad you could join us. Watching the clean is funny, we always have to allow extra time to get our jobs done because they are under our feet or grabbing the hose and brushes.

    Comment by pschaller — February 5, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  7. That’s so interesting! As I was looking at the photo, I noticed the spotted feet… Are those an all-species thing, or what is their cause? Also, are they different in all penguins, like freckles, perhaps?

    Comment by Yuli — April 1, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  8. Hi Yuli, The foot spots are seen in all African penguins. Yes, they are different in all of the African penguins here.

    Comment by pschaller — April 1, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

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