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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

15 Penguin Pictures That Will Absolutely Melt Your Heart

They wear tuxedos daily with panache and they waddle. What's not to love?

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Penguin couple goes for an afternoon walkSchwammerhans/Shutterstock

Penguins are among the most social birds on the planet

There are 17 known species of penguin, and all of them are highly social, which is why penguin pictures often depict more than one penguin at a time. When you see a photo of a lone penguin, it could be because the penguin in question is on its way to dive for food—which some species of penguin prefer to do alone, according to the penguin experts at SeaWorld.

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Pair of breeding Kin penguins in a rookery on Volunteer Point, Falkland Islands standing huddled together on foregroundNora Yusuf/Shutterstock

Hundreds of thousands can live together…

All species of penguin live in colonies known as “rookeries” during the breeding season. Some rookeries include hundreds of thousands of penguins and cover hundreds of square kilometers. Don’t miss these 27 funny but totally real names for groups of animals.

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King penguins on South Georgia islandAlexey Seafarer/Shutterstock

…but King Penguins prefer traveling in smaller groups

King penguins, which are identifiable by their golden-orange markings on their head and neck, are known to be very friendly with one another in their rookeries, but when it comes time to travel, they tend to break off into smaller groups of between 5 and 20 individuals.

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Kissing African penguins on the beach. African penguin ( Spheniscus demersus) also known as the jackass penguin and black-footed penguin. Boulders colony. Cape Town. South AfricaSergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

Do penguins really mate for life?

A popular myth about penguins is they’re strictly monogamous. While some species do tend toward choosing lifetime partners, not all do, and the penguin experts at SeaWorld note that some pengins—both males and females—have multiple partners per season. So what’s going on this penguin picture? Here are 11 animals that actually stay monogamous for life.

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Kissing Penguins. African penguins during mating season. African penguin ( Spheniscus demersus) also as the jackass penguin and black-footed penguin. Boulders colony. South AfricaSergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

“Hi, honey, I’m home.”

African penguins are one notably monogamous penguin species. (They only seek out a new partner if their partnership hasn’t resulted in babies.) This couple, shown during mating season, look like they’re perfectly content with one another.

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Close-up of two Southern Rockhopper penguins arguing between each other, Falkland islands.Giedriius/Shutterstock

Like an old married couple

Of course, even the happiest of couples have been known to bicker at times. These two Falkland Island penguins appear to be arguing with one another, although if you asked them, they’d probably say, “We’re not arguing, we’re having a discussion.” Here are 22 more hilarious bird photos you shouldn’t miss.

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Pair of penguins with green background in Falkland Islands. Love in the nature habitat. Two birds in the grass.Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

Penguins, they’re just like us…

It appears this penguin couple is having the same argument you have with your spouse every single time you travel. We imagine it’s going something like this: “Go ask that guy for directions.” “I know where I’m going.” “We’ve been walking in circles for hours!”

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When couples start to look alike

You know those couples who almost look like they could be brother and sister? When we see penguin pictures like this one, it’s hard to argue that penguins and humans don’t share that trait.

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Emperor Penguin ChicksRoger Clark ARPS/Shutterstock

Baby penguins are known as “chicks”

These emperor penguin chicks are still so young, they haven’t yet acquired the distinctive coloring of emperor penguin adults, which have yellowy-gold markings on the side of their head and neck. You’ll love these adorable animal photos that are guaranteed to make your day.

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Lone Emporer Penguin33 Degrees Photography/Shutterstock

Emperor penguins are the tallest species of penguin

Sometimes penguin pictures can inadvertently hide how tall the penguins in them actually are. For example, this emperor penguin may be close to four feet tall, which is the height of an average human six-year-old.

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Rockhopper penguin portraitZoltan Major/Shutterstock

Rockhopper penguins

You can tell this is a rockhopper penguin because of the distinctive crest of spiky yellow and black feathers that adorns its head.

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King penguin feeding its molting chick with regurgitated food, Antarctic, South GeorgiaTetyana Dotsenko/Shutterstock

Penguins feed their young by regurgitation

“The adult penguin will partially digest the fish or other food,” explains It can take several hours, but once the penguin determines the food’s been digested enough, it’s coughed back up and fed to the chick. The penguins pictured here are king penguins (king penguin chicks are born brown, and when they get older, they molt, and their feathers are replaced with their distinctive adult coat). Don’t miss these 13 facts about penguins (and how to help them).

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STOCKGerard Lacz/Shutterstock

Male Adélie penguins help out around the house

Pictures of animals taking care of their young are, more often than not, pictures of female animals. Not so with penguin pictures. Here, a male Adélie penguin, native to Antarctica, shares in the egg-sitting duties.

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Galapagos penguinCameris/Shutterstock

Where in the world was this penguin picture taken?

If you guessed someplace south of the equator, you’re probably right, except that this happens to be a photo of a Galapagos penguin, the only species of penguin known to venture north of the equator. Next, here are 15 more ridiculously adorable penguin photos to warm your heart.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.