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Animals Up-Close

Encounters with the animals that call Mystic Aquarium home

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All animals
Spheniscus demersus

African Penguins


Height- average 24-27 inches. Weight - average 8-10 pounds


Fish including anchovies, pilchards, and sardines and squid in some locations


Found in temperate climates on sandy or rocky beaches and islands. They hunt in cold water currents coming up from Antarctica usually within 40km of the coast


Southern coastlines and islands of South Africa and Namibia. Seven islands support over 80% of the global population

Conservation Status


Least Concern


Near Threatened








Extinct in Wild



There are many unique characteristics about African penguins!

The pattern of black spots on a penguin’s chest is as unique as a human fingerprint and they have a bare patch above their eyes to help regulate their body temperature. Penguins are one of only a few flightless bird species and they are the only penguin to breed in Africa; mostly surrounding islands along the coasts from Namibian to South Africa.

African Penguin Quick Facts

What is an African penguin's habitat?

When not hunting for food in the water, African penguins are found along rocky shores or brushy coastal areas. 

What are their threats in the wild?

Overfishing, oil spills, plastic pollution, habitat loss and climate change

Each year a Mystic Aquarium penguin trainer travels to South Africa to work at SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) to assist in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of abandoned penguin chicks.  Additionally, through collaborations with researchers, husbandry staff, educators, and concerned citizens, information on aquarium colonies of African penguins paired with field studies in South Africa are increasing our understanding on how to protect African penguin populations in the ocean.

Mystic Aquarium is an active participant in the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan.

Penguin Encounter

Get up close with our African penguins during one of our unique and exciting encounter experiences!