Lifespan or longevity
It is not easy to answer the question: "How long does a penguin live?" or "How old grows a penguin?" or
"What is the life expectancy of a penguin?".
To answer such question, it takes a long term study of thousands of penguins.
You have to band them and follow them for several years. As lots of chicks die in their infancy or
during the first years of live, it still makes a guess at an average age of a penguin.
First of all I want to thank Barry Benefield, pengophile [his made up word for penguin lover],
oklahoman, lawyer for poor people and indians and member of the
Yahoo club Penguin Paradise
who sent me his results to this question.
Before trying to give some specific values, I first want to cite some general remarks
"The average lifespan of penguins is probably 15 to 20 years.
Some individuals live considerably longer (Sparks and Soper, 1987).
(Source: Longevity and causes of death :
"Penguins in captivity will live longer than penguins in the wild since they
are fed nutrionally balanced meals and do not have to contend with predators. Generally, penguins will live from 15 to 20 years.
A female Humboldt penguin in my study group (in captivity) lived to 17 years.
(Source: Kevin Welch
"How long do penguins live? In the wild there haven't been any reliable long term studies of
individual penguins that can tell how long they live. The only such study was carried out in the 1940's and 50's by
Lance Richdale in New Zealand.
He monitored a population of Yellow-eyed penguins over a 15 year period. Certainly there were some chicks that he saw hatch
that survived through most of the study; so it is reasonable to put the lifespan of Yellow-eyed penguins at 15 years or more.
The only other information comes from studies on captive birds.
Zoos and aquaria often know how old their birds are when they die.
However, the common causes of death in captivity (Avian Malaria and Aspergillosis) are not particularly prevalent in the wild
so the experiences with captive birds are probably under-estimates. On the other hand the captive birds will not suffer
starvation if fish stocks go down suddenly and they have no predators (such as leopard seals and killer whales)
to kill them. Anyway, zoos reckon birds live 10 to 20 years depending on species, with the larger species generally being
Pete and Barbara's penguin page FAQ's
"The oldest known penguins are about 20 years old. Most penguins don't get that old however.
Less than half of all chicks live through their first year of life and about 90% of the adult penguins live from one year to the next.
The average age of a penguin that shows up at Palmer to breed is probably around 6 or 7 years old.
Source: Antwoord op "Penguin's life span" door John Carlson, Research Assistant, Dr. Fraser's Team,
Palmer Station, Antarctica, Sat, 15 Feb 1997,
In the tab pages I will try to give the average age for as much species as possible.
next chapter: Determination of sexe