"One can't be angry when one looks at a penguin." - John Ruskin
There's no doubt it is easy to be smitten by these adorable tuxedo-wearing birds. Penguins are flightless aquatic creatures consisting of 18 species living entirely in the southern hemisphere. Aside from their swimming skills and monochrome plumage, we also praise these social creatures for their monogamous lifestyle and superior parenting. From living in the wild to idioms and films, we have collected penguin quotes below celebrating everything penguin.
Quick links to our selection of penguin quotes:
According to a study, penguins lost their ability to fly 60 million years ago and underwent a slow evolution2. Unlike other birds, penguins have dense bones and tight-knit feathers that allow some species, specifically the Emporer, to dive up to 1,500ft for more than 20 minutes. Since they live in harsh climate conditions, their layers of feathers and fat, compact bodies, short flippers, and feet have adapted for survival.
Even if they slowly evolved, they still made their way through our hearts. Read the penguin quotes below to learn more about these aquatic birds. And for a deeper dive into the penguin world, check out our penguin facts.
Every breeding season, a penguin will only pursue, mate, and rear a chick with one other penguin. The probability of the couple returning together or going through a divorce for the next season will depend on the species, the timing of arrival at the breeding ground, and previous unsuccessful breeding. Despite being famous for their monogamous nature, numerous studies have long documented their extrapair copulation1.
Nevertheless, they are nature's model parents for taking turns in raising their offspring. For Emperor penguins, dads incubate the eggs while huddling together for two months without food, while the moms hunt for food which they store and regurgitate for the chick.
What do you think about the birds' relationship and parenting? Get others' insights from their penguin quotes below.
The flightless birds have also penetrated our language. For example, when a man wants to wear a penguin suit, he refers to the black and white tuxedo. In nature, the penguins' recognizable look is a camouflage technique called counter-shading which is also present in whales and sharks.
But chicks will first undergo an awkward transition before getting their dapper outfit. They molt and fully replace their fluffy white, black, or brown baby feathers at 10 to 12 months into their adult waterproof feathers.
Find the meaning behind other metaphorical penguin quotes below.
Apart from their monochromatic look, penguins have charmed us through their awkward gait. With their rotund bodies and short legs, perfect for swimming and staying warm, they take small, energy-intensive, quick strides. That's why they also move by sliding on their bellies or tobogganing.
Even if they spend twice the metabolic energy as other similar-weight terrestrial animals, a study proves that they recover 80% of mechanical energy on each stride3. The penguins made necessary tradeoffs in their harsh habitats. Nonetheless, in actuality, their waddling made us love them even more!
Imagine a waddling penguin as you read the following funny penguin quotes.
Charming their way through our hearts, it's no wonder penguins have also dominated popular culture. In Tim Burton's Batman Returns, one of the most memorable on-screen characters of a penguin was Oswald Cobblepot. The performance of Danny Devito as the grotesque supervillain fighting Bruce Wayne or Batman lives permanently in my young mind.
On a lighter note, Mumble, the dancing penguin of the animated movie Happy Feet, taught us the lessons of acceptance and determination. The film also increased awareness of environmental issues like overfishing and plastic pollution.
Pick your favorite penguin movie, book, or show after reading the rest of the penguin quotes below. And next, read up on our ocean facts to learn more about their home and inspire conservation efforts.
Schwartz, Michael & Boness, Daryl & Schaeff, Cathy & Majluf, Patricia & Perry, Elizabeth & Fleischera, Robert. (1999). Female-solicited extrapair matings in Humboldt penguins fail to produce extrapair fertilizations. Behavioral Ecology - BEHAV ECOL. 10. 242-250. 10.1093/beheco/10.3.242.
Cole, T.L., Zhou, C., Fang, M. et al. Genomic insights into the secondary aquatic transition of penguins. Nat Commun 13, 3912 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31508-9
Griffin, T., Kram, R. Penguin waddling is not wasteful. Nature 408, 929 (2000).