If you see a panoramic photo taken high above the Southern Atlantic Ocean Island of South Georgia,
you might be wondering what all of that brown and white stuff is.
Large white patches can be seen surrounding swaths of brown.
It appears that something strange is going on near the waters.
Zoom in for a closer inspection and you will find that the rows of brown actually represent adorable baby brown King Penguins.
While, the surrounding clusters of white are adult penguins standing on guard.
So what are they doing perfectly positioned like this?
They are doing what comes natural of course, utilizing a form of childcare for their young ones. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and penguins offer some serious proof to that statement.
South Georgia Island is one of the few places around the world where King Penguins form colonies. These amazing birds have come up with quite a solution for taking care of their young, and simultaneously getting all of their to-do lists checked off.
King Penguins are family creatures, almost always remaining monogamous so long as their mate remains alive. Females only lay one egg at a time.
Together, male and female penguins take turns keeping their egg warm, waiting about 60 days for the chick to hatch. Until chicks are 3 weeks old, they are not mature enough to enter the penguins’ form of daycare; in fact they can’t even regulate their own body temperatures yet.
This means parent penguins work hard looking after their young in the first weeks, a process they will repeat around two times every three years. A full breeding cycle stretches close to one year, with all penguins playing their part to help protect the colony.
When baby penguins are ready for a bit more independence, King Penguins do what many human parents do and they seek appropriate childcare
King Penguins round their little chicks up, herding them into groups that look like waves of brown from up above.
Here, certain penguins protect and guard the little ones, surrounding clusters of chicks on all sides. While a baby King Penguin wears a layer or blubber and a brown coat, it isn’t enough to keep him sufficiently warm.
This is just another reason it’s smart for adult penguins to herd all of their chicks together into large crèches, this prevents the chicks from freezing to death in the cold temperatures.
Meanwhile, the other adult penguins head off to work. Instead of typing away at the keyboard, penguins’ occupation requires they head straight to the water. Here, they spend the majority of their days catching fish.
King Penguins prefer small fish (namely lantern fish) and squid, and will dive up to 100 meters for some good grub.
Once every two or three days, the penguins return to their young bearing food and love. Feeding penguin chicks is a process, requiring parents to partially eat and digest the fish before spitting it back up and placing it inside of their baby’s eager mouth.
Penguins fast while taking time to look after their young, and so within a few days it’s time to go back out on the hunt again to replenish their energy.
Within 10 to 13 months brown baby penguins will fully develop into adult King Penguins. These adorable waddling creatures are the second largest penguins on the planet, and they can grow to weigh as much as 40 pounds.
Around the world there are an estimated 2.23 million King Penguin pairs. Living out in the wild, King Penguins can live to be around 20 years old, while the oldest King Penguin kept in captivity lived to be 40.