Animals & Attractions

We have a bachelor group of king penguins here at Edinburgh Zoo, including the world's only knighted penguin - Major General Sir Nils Olav!

King penguins were one of the very first species at the zoo and in 1919 we welcomed our first chick, making us the first zoo in the world to successfully breed the species.

Because of this long and wonderful history, our logo and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s crest feature a king penguin.

Did you know it costs £130 a day to feed our penguin colony? You can help feed our penguins and protect threatened wildlife around the world by donating todayif you can, please support our Survival Fund.


  • King penguins are the second largest penguin species (emperor penguins are the largest)

  • They can dive to amazing depths to hunt their prey—sometimes up to 300 metres!

  • King penguins lay only one egg and incubate it on top of their feet, both the male and female will share incubation duties and take care of the chick when it hatches

  • Their chicks are very unusual-looking for the first year of their lives - they have very shaggy, brown feathers and can appear to be even larger than their parents!


Our king penguins are part of the European Stud Book programme which is monitored by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

As a wildlife conservation charity, we care for both the animals here at the zoo and work to protect endangered species around the world.

From providing genetics expertise and veterinary health, to protecting wild places with local conservation partners, and even restoring threatened species to the wild, we are active where we are needed most.

Penguin species face many threats in the wild, including global warming, over-fishing, marine pollution and habitat loss. We are part of Project Pinnamin, a conservation project helping northern rockhopper penguins in their native habitat.

Find out more about penguin conservation.Support RZSS - Adopt a panda

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Can you support our Survival Fund?

Every month, we need thousands of pounds just to feed and care for the animals you love. If you can, please help your zoo survive long into the future by giving a donation today.

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