The King Penguin sculpture’s colorful decoration is painted with ceramic pigments and fired to seal under a transparent glaze.
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The King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is the second largest breed on Earth after the Emperor penguin. They are native to the Southern Ocean’s sub-Antarctic islands north of the southernmost continent, including Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.
Their coloration is very distinctive, with black and white plumage plus patches of color. King penguins have distinguishable yellow-orange feathers on the upper chest and teardrop-shaped patches of orange color on both sides of its head. As full-grown adults, they are typically 3 feet tall, weigh 35 pounds, and have an expected life span of 26 years in the wild. They have developed a method of walking and tobogganing on their bellies on land.
They are excellent swimmers and divers, up to depths of up to 1180 feet. As carnivores, they can consume as many as 2000 fish daily, as well as krill and squid.
The King penguin are social and live in large colonies, which can be as large as hundreds of thousands of penguins. They mate for life and care for the chicks together. The breeding season generally runs from November until March. They don’t build a nest. The male and female pair take turns cradling the egg on top of their feet and keeping it warm with a brood pouch. The breeding cycle can last as long as 16 months, typically producing a chick every other year.
Even though King penguins are not considered an endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ), they face climate change and overfishing challenges. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect their habitats and populations.
Find more King Penguin information in National Geographic magazine.