A Plethora of Penguins

Today’s post is by Bryony from the Visitor Team at Manchester Museum. We are not experts, but we are people with a passionate interest in the museum and its objects. We each bring our own insight into Manchester Museum and its collections.

For more about zoology and nature at Manchester Museum, please visit the Curator’s blogNature Manchester.

A Plethora of Penguins

One common question we get asked here at Manchester Museum is “where’s the penguin?”

This may be because they assume we have one of every animal (sadly, we don’t – we’d need a much bigger museum for that!) or maybe because our map has a penguin symbol on one of the floors…

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Manchester Museum map

… but I’m glad to inform you lovers of Happy Feet, Club Penguin and Pingu that we don’t just have the one penguin, we have lots! No fewer than 6 of the 17 species of penguin are represented on our galleries, although you might struggle to recognise some, because a few of them no longer have their skin!

The first of these is the world’s smallest penguin, variously known as the Blue penguin, the Little penguin and the Fairy penguin in different parts of its range. Whatever you want to call it, it stands at a cute 25-30cm small!

And what about this unfeathered friend?

these are Rockhopper penguins, which in real life have a funky hairstyle (below left)!

On the other hand, they do say death does terrible things to your ‘do’! (Right, on our Living Worlds gallery at Manchester Museum).

But enough of these skeletons! You can also see more penguins in the flesh here, like this Gentoo penguin from Living Worlds…

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Gentoo penguin, Living Worlds, Manchester Museum

… Which you might recognise from the movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins!

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Movie poster for Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) (Image from tes.com/lessons)

Speaking of which, this penguin, like most, lives at the South Pole.

Penguins in general are from the South Pole (whereas the North Pole is for polar bears – in the wild, these two would never meet) but there are a few oddballs.

The Magellanic penguin is positively tropical, living it up in the bottom part of South America, but sometimes as far up as Brazil!

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Magellanic penguin, Living Worlds, Manchester Museum

… And the Galapagos penguin lives, as you might have guessed, in the Galapagos Islands, which is remarkable because that is (just about) in the northern hemisphere!

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Galapagos penguin, Nature’s Library, Manchester Museum

But hang on, none of these penguins are the classic penguin – the sort of penguin shape you’d find on the map. Do we only have weird penguins?

Well, luckily we have one of those too!

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Emperor penguin, Nature’s Library, Manchester Museum

The Emperor penguin is up to 1 and a half metres tall!

So, whatever your penguin needs this winter, come to Manchester Museum! Toot-toot!

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Pingu, (GIF from tumblr.com)

Hopefully everyone gets the Pingu reference! Regardless –pingy penguin


by Bryony Rigby

For more about zoology and nature at Manchester Museum, please visit the Curator’s blogNature Manchester.

Read more by Bryony from the Visitor Team;
Halloween Special! Death and the Hawk Moth
Kiwi and Egg Syndrome


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