The Emperor Penguins

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The Emperor Penguins

1. Antarctica is a place that often fascinates scientists. In fact, scientists are the only people that actually stay in Antarctica. However, the cold continent is the home to different types of animals, including the Emperor Penguin.
2. The Emperor Penguin lives in colonies on the coast of Antarctica. It is the largest of all penguins, sometimes as tall as 4 feet and weighing as much as 90 pounds. That’s about as big as a third or fourth grader. Penguins, unlike most birds on this planet, cannot fly, but they do swim extremely well. Just like all penguins, Emperor Penguins have a short neck, large head, a straight body, a tiny tail, and flipper-like wings. They also have webbed feet that help them swim well.
3. The Emperor Penguins have adapted well to the harsh climate, which can be as low as negative eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit. In order to survive in this type of weather, Emperor Penguins have a thick layer of blubber under their skin, which is covered with a layer of feathers. The penguins huddle together in large groups to keep warm. They actually trade places with each other to move towards the middle. This way, all the penguins have a turn in the central area, which is the warmest.
4. The Emperor Penguin is one of the only animals in Antarctica to spend the frigid winters on the cold ice. The summer in the Southern Hemisphere, where Antarctica is located, corresponds to winter in the United States. They actually breed in the winter rather than in the summertime, like most birds. When the Emperor Penguin meets its mate, the female penguin lays just a single egg and then leaves her mate and the egg. While she is gone, she searches for food in the open water and can travel up to 50 miles during this time. The Emperor Penguins eat different types of fish and squid.
5. While the female is out looking for food, the male incubates the egg, keeping it warm during the winter by balancing it under its stomach and on top of his feet. The male stands with the egg balanced for about 65 days, even with freezing temperatures, wind, and snow storms that take place around him. He doesn’t eat this entire time! Finally, after about two months, the female returns with food for herself and her new baby. The male takes off for his turn finding food, leaving the mom to nurture her new addition.
6. When the eggs hatch, the newborn Emperor Penguins stay within their mother’s pouch, so they don’t freeze. The baby chicks are called crèches. When they are slightly older, they often group together in order to keep warm.
7. Throughout their lives, these penguins make sure to work together to try to survive the freezing climate of Antarctica. They are animals that we should continue to watch and study because of the way they adapt to their environment.

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Word Lists:

Blubber : the fat of sea mammals, especially whales and seals.

Incubate : (of a bird) sit on (eggs) in order to keep them warm and bring them to hatching.

Frigid : very cold in temperature

Nurture : care for and encourage the growth or development of

Layer : a sheet, quantity, or thickness of material, typically one of several, covering a surface or body

Huddle : crowd together; nestle closely

Balanced : keeping or showing a balance; arranged in good proportions

Scientist : a person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences

Adapt : make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify

Hatch : an opening of restricted size allowing for passage from one area to another


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