The freezing temperatures and strong snow storms that are expected during the bitter Antarctic winter, are not the most likely place you would expect to find animals breeding. However, when the temperatures begin to turn, hundreds of the world's largest penguins begin to come together to breed.
The emperor penguin, which is the only animal capable of withstanding the Antarctic winter on the open ice, can walk up to 120 km to get to its breeding grounds. There can often be thousands of emperor penguins in one place, which serves a useful purpose when the females leave the males to look after the eggs while they go out to sea to gather food.
The male penguins, with their precious eggs on their feet, spent much of the two months the egg takes to hatch, huddled together in order to keep warm as temperatures can drop as low as -40 degrees centigrade. The female penguins usually arrive back from their fishing trip just after the eggs have hatched, and they take over caring for the chick while the males go out to sea.
The whole process of travelling, mating and incubating the egg, can take up to four months so its hardly surprising that a male emperor penguin can lose more than half his body weight in that time. Once the male emperor penguin has eaten, both the male and the female penguin take it in turns to look after their chick while the other goes out to fish.
Chicks and Adults
If you would like to know more about how emperor penguins have adapted to living in the Antarctic, please see: