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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Jackass Penguin Spheniscus demersus

Also known as the Cape penguin, the jackass penguin is the only penguin that breeds in Africa. Physically, it bears a strong resemblance to the Magellanic penguin from South America, although it has a single black breast band rather than two.

The jackass penguin feeds on small fish such as pilchards, sardines, and anchovies, and gets its name from its braying call, which may be heard onshore when it breeds. Jackass penguins nest in burrows, and in the past, many of their nesting sites were destroyed by farmers collecting their droppings, or guano, for use as fertilizer.

Today, depletion of food stocks due to overfishing and oil spills are two major threats that jackass penguins face, along with competition from fur seals for breeding sites. Their numbers are in sharp decline.

Jackass Penguinzoom image
  • Order Sphenisciformes
  • Height 24–28 in (60–70 cm)
  • Weight 11 lb (5 kg)
  • Habitat Habitat rocky coasts, open ocean
  • Distribution Coastal waters of southern Africa, south Atlantic and southern Indian Ocean
Jackass Penguin Habitat Mapzoom image