Belfast Zoo
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Rockhopper penguin

Eudyptes chrysocome

Rockhopper penguin

Rockhoppers are the smallest of the crested penguins. The head has bright yellow and black spiked feathers and perform bowing behaviour in order to attract a mate and declare their territory. They are aggressive birds and defend the territory determinedly with their sharp beaks. 

Our rockhopper penguin colony can be seen on their ‘pebble beach’ or you can admire their skills at the underwater viewing area. They share their area with our gentoo penguins. 

We have two rockhopper penguin's but 41 gentoo penguins.

Animal class


Diet - Piscivore
The rockhopper penguin eats mainly krill, but will also eat squid and fish.

The rockhopper penguin can be up to 55 centimetres long and can weigh up to five kilograms.

The rockhopper penguin is found in the southern seas. It can be found on rocky shores of islands in the seas and oceans around Antarctica.

Conservation status
The IUCN considers rockhopper penguins to be facing a high risk of extinction. Over the last 30 years, the population has declined by 30 per cent. 

Rockhopper penguins are threatened by habitat loss, invasive alien species, pollution and human disturbances.

Current population
It is estimated there could be as many as 1,750,000 pairs of breeding rockhopper penguins but numbers are in decline.

Zoo population
Rockhopper penguins are managed under the ESB. In zoos worldwide there are under 400 rockhopper penguins