Edinburgh Zoo is home to the largest outdoor penguin pool in Europe, with three different species and over 100 individuals. This penguin awareness day get to know some of the famous faces in the colony who you can also watch live on our penguin cam.

Maj Gen Sir Nils Olav

Sir Nils is our most famous penguin, appearing in the news and often as an answer on quiz shows. His full title is Major General Sir Nils Olav, mascot and colonel in chief of the Norwegian Kings Guard. He's a very sociable penguin, spending time hanging out with all three species here at Penguins Rock , particularly the  Northern rockhoppers. He enjoys attention from the penguin keeper team and has been known to flirt with tall men!


Snowflake gets his name from his notably pale feathers. He is a gentoo penguin that has leucism, a genetic condition that means his feathers don’t have as much pigment giving him his beautiful silver colour! In nesting seasons he has been known to help out by incubating eggs hatched by other pairs.


Kevin is Penguins Rock’s resident troublemaker. He is well known for his lifetime ban from the Penguin Parade* due to his affinity for nipping at visitors’ shoelaces! He likes to keep our penguin keeper team on their toes (with their ankles covered so he can’t get at them) but is a great dad raising several chicks over the last few years.

Did you know?

Penguins have played an integral part of our charity’s history since we opened in 1913 and we play an important part in their conservation around the globe. They’re so important to us our logo features a king penguin!

The RZSS WildGenes team has been on a mission to conserve genetic diversity for over 10 years by translating genetic data into conservation management. Northern rockhoppers (Eudyptes moseleyi) have faced a significant decline over the past 30 years with threats including introduced species and disease, competition for food, climate change, pollution and human activity. Advancing species recovery science is a crucial part of our pledge to reverse the decline of at least 50 species by 2030.

Together with project partners we have developed a species action plan to support the conservation of these wonderful animals. A species action plan pulls together crucial knowledge and expertise to set out the conservation priorities for a species in trouble as well as allowing scientists, conservation specialists and funding organisations to use the plan to inform their work.

Action for Northern rockhopper penguins

The species action plan for Northern rockhopper penguins identified that understanding movement between islands was a knowledge gap that needed to be addressed. By investigating connectivity between islands and how that might influence population dynamics, as well as disease risk and spread, conservationists will be able to deliver more effective conservation management for the species.

RZSS WildGenes is exploring connectivity across colonies found in the Tristan da Cunha islands and Gough Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, and Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands in the South Indian Ocean, using genetic tools. These methods will teach us about the movement of penguins and, when used alongside further environmental and ecological data, we can begin to understand the underlying drivers of these movements and help conservation scientists take the next steps toward securing a better future for the amazing Northern rockhopper penguin.

The Northern rockhopper species action plan was developed by RZSS and partners BAS, CEBC-CNRS, RSPB, TAAF, and TCD. You can find out more about our Northern rockhopper penguin conservation work at bit.ly/ConservingNorthernRockhopperPenguins


You can help

It costs £130 every day to feed our penguin colony. When you donate you help us to care for these cheeky characters and deliver vital conservation work around the world support.rzss.org.uk/donation

*The Penguin Parade is currently postponed due to the ongoing risks associated with avian influenza. The health and wellbeing of our colony is our number one priority, we will be sure to update everyone on any changes in future!


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