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An adult animal looks after the hatchlings in the so-called kindergarten.

German Oceanographic Museum, Foundation German Oceanographic Museum

German Oceanographic Museum, Foundation German Oceanographic Museum

The long, dangerous path through the ice

Emperor Penguins are the largest of all penguin species at up to 130 centimetres in height. In addition they are also now movie stars, well-known and famous from nature documentaries, such as the Oscar winning movie "March of the Penguins". And, just as is described very emotionally in that film, these admirable inhabitants of Antarctic ice desert cope with what is probably the most deadly and climatically extreme journey of all the inhabitants of the Earth.

Actually, during their breeding season the emperor penguins must cope with a up to 100 km of journeying back and forth between the remote breeding grounds and the open sea. Through impassable ice, heavy snow storms and sometimes 100ºC below freezing point. This long, dangerous walk provides a severe test for the parents and later the young animals.

Why these impressive birds undertake such an ordeal, is still unexplored. How much easier would it be, though, to breed closer to the sea coast, to reduce the difficulties of this life-threatening voyage? However, it is probably ancient instincts and the internalised fear of robbers that prevent the search for less extreme conditions.

But, nevertheless, after laying their eggs the females take the arduous route to the distant coast and leave their partner with the eggs on the inland ice. When they are back with an abundant food supply for the now-hatched juveniles, their males can then embark on the search for food in the sea. The chick, meanwhile, grows up in so-called kindergartens, where the young penguins assemble, supervised by a few older animals. Such a penguin kindergarten is recreated in a showcase in the MEERESMUSEUM.

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Details

  • Title: An adult animal looks after the hatchlings in the so-called kindergarten.
  • Location: Deutsches Meeresmuseum, Stiftung Deutsches Meeresmuseum
  • Rights: photo: Johannes-Maria Schlorke

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