Other Small Animals

Penguins Can’t Stay On Their Feet


Watching this video is a bit like standing outside of bar at closing time, there is waddling, swaying, and completely toppling over. Penguins are definitely some peculiar birds, and it’s their unique oddities that make them quite endearing. While this video gives anyone a good chuckle, it left me wondering are these strange birds really this clumsy or blind? Maybe they got into some fermented kelp?

One thing to consider is that even though penguins are birds, they are an aquatic animal. In fact they spend about 75% of their lives in the water, so kickin’ it on land clearly isn’t their forte. Their body is shaped like a torpedo, with a relatively large head and two small three-toed webbed feet that are tucked behind their body. Their feet are very close together, and while this is perfect for swimming, it’s not conducive for walking. You know that old trick when you tie some one’s shoelaces together? They either completely fall down or they have to do that awesome shuffling move to stay upright. This is exactly why the penguin must waddle back and forth; mother nature’s cruel practical joke! The torpedo shape however is ideal for swimming; they are completely streamlined and tapered at both ends.

So watching this video of these poor little birds falling down and pretty much failing at walking, one should remember that they are very powerful and agile swimmers. While they are flightless birds, one could say they “fly through the water”. Penguins are able to breathe while swimming by powerfully propelling themselves into their air to take a breath. They are so good at jumping out of water they can jump as high as 2 meters to land on an iceberg. Some penguins have been clocked as swimming as fast as 15 mph!


Funny and clumsy on land, but amazing in the water, it’s just another classic example to never judge a bird by its tuxedo.


About the author

Wendy Aburto

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