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Chinstrap Penguin   Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguin

My own personal favorite penguin species in Antarctica, the Chinstrap is playful and loving toward its own kind. It's easy to see how it got its name, thanks to a unique black stripe under the chin that makes it look like it's wearing a little hat.

Relatively speaking, Chinstraps are a big group, growing as tall as 27 inches and weighing in at 13 pounds. They also have a very harsh call, which is why they're also known as Stonecracker penguins. These penguins call small barren islands along Antarctica home, preferring a rocky, snow-free terrain. Like other penguins they undergo a molting process—known as a catastrophic molt because of its intensity. During this time all of their feathers are replaced by new ones, a dangerous time in their life cycles. They can't feed while molting, since the feathers wouldn't protect them in the harsh waters, so they must gorge beforehand and expend as little energy as possible during this 2-3 week period. It's important not to walk near molting penguins when you visit, as your presence may force them to move, sacrificing precious energy.