Do Penguins Mate for Life? Penguin Love Explained

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What do you know about penguin love? Do penguins mate for life? You might be surprised with the answer. Penguin love is different, and often, they stick to one partner for their life. However, that’s not always the case – similar to what you experience with humans. The answer differs according to the type of penguin you are looking at.

Penguins are cute, funny kind of creatures, aren’t they? We have witnessed their madness in films like Madagascar, loved the chemistry between penguins in Happy feet and March of the Penguins almost made us sentimental. Penguins have been marketed and packed and repacked in many ways, through films, cartoon, toys, games and what not. Most of you would go down to the memory lane when Penguin Club is mentioned.

This famous game was so popular among kids that it was the hype those days. You want to believe it or not but you have been associated with penguins in one way or another. But do you have your facts correct?

penguins
courting mates

The Different Types of Penguins

Penguins are known to have over 18 species which have been testified by the scientists. The most popular species being the Emperor Penguin, King Penguin, Adelie Penguin, Gentoos, Royal and Crested penguins. Most of these species have been adapted in one or the other ways in the movies, so you must be familiar with them.

Do you believe in the ‘one mate forever’? Do you believe in the ‘one true love which lasts till your life-time’? Do you believe that even penguins believe the same? Well, let’s check out the facts and see if the bubble of the love story pops or stays. Let’s find out the answer to do penguins mate for life and penguin love.

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display gestures

Penguins are the most socially living birds just like us. They live in colonies called rookeries and do most of the activities together like swimming, travelling or feeding. You would be surprised of the similarities we humans and these birds share in common. But it is seen that penguins usually dive solo in search of food but this is not universal for all species as the Emperor penguins dive in the group even for hunting. Aren’t they the perfect examples for extroverts like us?

But how do they select their perfect partners? Unfortunately for them, they don’t have dating apps like us but nature has its own beauty. Many penguins have unique way of courting, proposing and mating with their partners. If you are looking for the answer to do penguins mate for life, here is something you need to know. Since their nest is made of stones and sticks, the male penguins hunt for the perfect, shinny and round pebbles to give to their female partners just like we hunt for the perfect diamond.

The Use of Stones in Penguin Love

Isn’t it surprising how both the female species have affection towards stones? It is debated among scientist that presenting stones really matter in the mating and copulation process as scientists state that shape and look of the pebble doesn’t really matter.

It is often noticed that presenting of the stone coincides with the mating process and that it can be part of the ritual process to mate. It may or may not play any role in mating but it is for sure romantic and quirky which even we in a way do in our lives.

Do Penguins Mate for Life? It Seems So!

Penguins are extremely vocal about their love and affection. You can imagine how difficult it is for the penguins to identify their mates in the rush of thousands of other penguins but Mother Nature has a solution for this too. Penguins have individual vocal calls or vocalization which is unique to every single one of them. They use this vocal call for various purposes like identifying their mates and chicks, calling their colony members or alerting for danger.

They use contact calls for identifying their colony members and it is known that the emperor penguin and the king penguin can vocalize to the range of one kilometer. Imagine we have that power and call out to the best friend one kilometer away. It would be such a ruckus, no wonder we don’t have that.

Another unique call the penguin have is the display class which they usually use to covey any sexual or territorial signal. These calls are different for different purposes as scientist have observed that the calls of the male Emperor penguin and the female Emperor penguin differ as the study shows.

We humans can give it to them as they never shy away to call out their love unlike us who tend to stay quiet and not profess our love to the partners. Take this time to say something nice to your loved ones if you have not done already, be like a penguin.

courting
mating display position

Penguin love is different and yet, kind of the same. Penguins have a very expressive way of courting their beloved. They have physical behaviors called displays which they use it to express different signals. The most common signals are to indicate the intrusion of territory, nesting rituals, identification of mates and chicks and to alert the danger. This is found in animals too.

Penguin Love Differs

The emperor penguins have a very beautiful and touching mutual display position. You can relate this to the couples who touch each other’s forehead during a wedding ceremony. The Emperor Penguins stand face to face with their bills facing the ground. This is a very expressive display often seen around the nesting site where they incubate their eggs or feed their chicks.

These birds are not only vocally but also physically expressive about their love to one another using gestures and body language. Once again the non speaking species have shown the human race that it’s not only through the words but also through the actions you show the love to one another.

Do penguins mate for life?
emperor penguin

Here is the thing. If you are looking at do penguins mate for life, there is one thing we are sure about – no one can beat them in their cool way to impress the females. Do you know they attract the female penguins by reflecting UV rays? Yes, you read it right. The courtship period is much more complicated than you think. The male King penguins come face to face like a battle field to impress other females with their shinny contrasting bill to the black feathers.

These bills reflect the UV rays which is mostly perceived by the birds. The bills which reflect the UV rays are to be developed only in the mature male King penguin, it’s like a beacon of sexual prowess which the developed males assert over the juvenile males to get a mate. Penguin love is interesting, for sure!

Male Penguins Do their Part in Penguin Love

Now comes the most crucial part of the penguin life cycle. After all the wooing and courting the female, protecting the nest and territory, the male penguin has to take responsibility of incubating the egg. Incubation is generally the warming up the egg so that it could hatch. Here we see the division of work, responsible parenthood and caring for each other. We can really see how closely connected behaviors we share.

The papa penguin gives relief to the mama penguin by taking turn over the incubation of egg while she goes to feed. The emperor male penguins only go once to feed themselves, they fast throughout the courtship, mating and incubation. It’s as if the male penguin is paying homage to the female penguin for bringing a new life into the world. This is a great gesture we could learn from them, to respect each other for their parts in life rather than to take it for granted. Penguin love can be interesting.

 penguin love
parent penguin with chick

Bonding between Penguins

The bonding between penguins is strong. They are generally known to be monogamous and truly loyal to their partners. Adelie penguins have been seen pairing up with the same partner to almost 62% times and they are not the only ones. The most loyal and monogamous species in the penguin are the Gentoos who are known to pair up with the same partner in every mating season to a whopping 90%.

They share really one hell of a bond to find, identify and mate with the same partner every season among thousands of other potential male Gentoo penguin. They really are setting goals for us aren’t they? But they are not the only ones who do that, Chinstrap penguins also pair up with the same partners to around 82% time.

We should really give them a stand-up ovation for being such loyal partners in the ocean of penguins who look alike yet they identify each other with their calls. A symbol of true love indeed. For these penguins, the question to do penguins mate for life is a resounding yes.

So, do Penguins Mate for Life Always?

The entire story short, we can’t obviously classify them as always monogamous as the death or missing of partners tend to lead to mating with a new partner but more or the less they stay loyal, committed and sharing equal responsibilities in protecting, raising and bringing up their chicks. This indeed is a great deal in the bird world where two mature individuals choose, commit and stand together to raise a new generation.

We humans can learn a lot from these non-speaking counterparts who we easily dispose of being less intelligent or advanced whereas in reality they are the ones who really show a cultured and advanced behavior than most of the human culture.Penguins are a real inspiration for our generation of a perfect but not so perfect relationship showing adherence to love, responsibility and loyalty.

Now you won’t be asking do penguins mate for life, we are sure!

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