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On world Penguin day - could there be a more adorable penguin?

Adelies having a conversation in front of the Royal Society Mountain Range - Antarctica

Adelies having a conversation in front of the Royal Society Mountain Range - Antarctica

January 20th - world penguin day.  Who knew?

Adelies.  They are the cutest little penguins around.  They're playful and adorable and about the size of a big football. 

I took this photograph of these two adelie penguins "having a conversation" with the Royal Society Mountains in the background years and years ago when I was working at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.  (years ago - hence the great amount of noise in the photo)

Here's 5 fun facts about penguins for you: 

1. There are believe to be 17 penguin species ranging from the little Blue Penguin to the majestic Emperor Penguin.  Several of these are threatened by climate change.  

2. Just like there are no polar bears in Antarctica, there are no penguins living at the north pole - all those cute cartoons you've seen of the polar bear engaging with penguins is just cool animals in (totally separate) cooler environments.

3. Emperor Penguins can stay underwater for around 20 minutes at a time.  WOW!

4.  A penguin's black and white plumage serves as camouflage while swimming.  The black plumage on their back is hard to see from above, while the white plumage on their front looks like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water when seen from below.

5. Penguins have knees!  The upper leg bones are not visible as they care covered in feathers giving penguins a very short legged appearance.

Bonus fact! - Penguins mate for life!  But what happens if one penguin gets eaten while out searching for food (it happens!) or doesn't make a very good parent??? 

It takes two birds to raise chicks, and being able to pass on genes to the next generation is quite important.  If a penguin lost their mate after only a year or two of breeding together, not selecting a new mate would cause them to miss out on years of offspring - that's a bunch cutesy little baby penguins that wouldn't be around.  Tragedy!

Penguins, like many other bird and animal species (humans), can also be very picky about mates.  For example, if a female penguin does not think her mate was very helpful with sitting on eggs or raising chicks, she will find a new, better mate for the following breeding season.