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The Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus) is a species of penguin which is found in the South Sandwich Islands, Antarctica, the South Orkneysmarker, South Shetlandmarker, South Georgiamarker, Bouvet Islandmarker and Balleny. Their name derives from the narrow black band under their heads which makes it appear as if they are wearing black helmets, making them one of the most easily identified types of penguin. Other names for them are "Ringed Penguins", "Bearded Penguins", and "Stonecracker Penguins" due to their harsh call.


The Chinstrap Penguin was first spotted in 1781 by German naturalist Forster who was then in Australia. Its specific epithet was often seen as Antarctica, however a 2002 review determined the genus Pygoscelis was masculine, and hence the correct binomial name is Pygoscelis antarcticus.

The Chinstrap Penguin is one of three species in the genus Pygoscelis. Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA evidence suggests the genus split from other penguins around 38 million years ago, about 2 million years after the ancestors of the genus Aptenodytes. In turn, the Adelie Penguins split off from the other members of the genus around 19 million years ago, and the Chinstrap and Gentoo finally diverging around 14 million years ago.


Chinstrap Penguins grow to 68 cm (27 in) in length, and a weight of 6 kg (13.2 lbs) , however weight can drop as low as 3 kg (6.6 lbs) based on where the penguin is in the breeding cycle. Males are both larger and heavier then females. Their diet consists of krill (a shrimp-like sea creature), shrimp and fish.

They live both on barren islands and large icebergs of the sub-Antarctic Region and the Antarctic Peninsula, however require solid, snow-free ground to nest on. The chinstrap penguin eats mostly krill and some fish, while their primary predator is leopard seals. There are about 12 to 13 million chinstrap penguins, and have an average life span of 15 to 20 years.


On land they build circular nests from stones, and lay two eggs, which are incubated by both the male and the female for shifts of 6 days. They can also breed on icebergs, though they prefer non-icy conditions. The chicks hatch after about 37 days, and have fluffy gray backs and white fronts. The chicks stay in the nest for 20–30 days before they go to join a creche. At around 50–60 days old, they moult, gaining their adult plumage and go to sea.

Fraser the Penguin

Roy and Silo

In 2004, two male chinstrap penguins named Roy and Silo in Central Park Zoomarker, New York Citymarker, formed a pair-bond and took turns trying to “hatch” a rock; this was substituted by a keeper for a fertile egg, and the pair subsequently hatched and raised the chick. Penguins, their nature, hatch eggs and are social creatures. Roy and Silo are not exhibiting homosexual tendencies but rather their natural propensity towards fatherhood. A children's book, And Tango Makes Three, was written based on this event.


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