Gentoo penguin

Pygoscelis papua

Gentoo penguin Muffin and chick on nest IMAGE: Amy Middleton 2022



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We have a large colony of gentoo penguins here at Edinburgh Zoo, with almost 100 living at Penguins Rock!

Notable individuals include Snowflake, who is leucisitic (a genetic condition that means his feathers don’t have as much pigment giving him his beautiful silver colour) and Kevin, known for his mischievous ways and love of attacking keepers' boots.










Fact file

  • Gentoo penguins can dive to depths of 665ft and remain underwater for seven minutes

  • While swimming, they can reach speeds of up to 22mph

  • Adult gentoos will dive to look for food up to 450 times a day

  • During breeding season, both males and female will take turns incubating the eggs in their nests

  • They may all look very similar, but each penguin has distinct personality and they are well known by our keepers who use different coloured flipper bands to help tell them apart – male penguins have bands on their right flipper, and females on the left

A gentoo penguin swimming Image: Rhiordan Langan-Fortune 2024

Keep up with our penguins

You may spot Kevin, our naughtiest penguin, who has a lifetime ban from the penguin parade for pecking at our visitors! Keep an eye out for Snowflake, our leucistic gentoo, easily identifiable by his rare pale white plumage. And don't forget Major General Sir Nils Olav, mascot of the Norwegian King's Guard and the world's highest ranking penguin!

Watch our penguins live
Gentoo penguin in the snow looking up and to the right IMAGE: Amy Middleton 2023

How we're helping

Like all the animals in our care our gentoo penguins are amazing ambassadors for their relatives in the wild and help hundreds of thousands of people connect with nature every year. They encourage visitors to learn about the threats facing wildlife and the action they can take to help create a world where nature is protected, valued and loved.

As a wildlife conservation charity, we care for the animals here at the zoo and work to protect species at risk around the world. From providing expertise in genetics 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.


Find out more about RZSS's penguin conservation projects