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Penguins (Spheniscidae) are a classification of flightless birds that thrive in aquatic locations in the Southern Hemisphere. They are commonly found on Antarctica, and live in various other locations such as the Galápagos Islands, Australia, Chile and more. Penguins are not very migratory, instead returning often to the areas they were born to mate and breed. They breed in large colonies, which characterizes the Spheniscidae as very social. Most penguins lay two eggs on average in their own cluth (nest), while species such as the Emperor or King penguins may only lay one.
Although all penguin species are native to the southern hemisphere, they are not found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact, only a few species of penguin live so far south. Several species are found in the temperate zone, and one species, the Galápagos Penguin, lives near the equator.
Penguins generally live on islands and remote continental regions free from land predators, where their inability to fly is not detrimental to their survival.
These highly specialized marine birds are adapted to living at sea - some species spend as much as 75% of their lives at sea. Penguins are usually found near nutrient-rich, cold-water currents that provide an abundant supply of food.
Different species thrive in varying climates, ranging from Galápagos penguins on tropical islands at the equator to emperor penguins restricted to the pack ice of Antarctica.
Currently all 17 species of penguins are legally protected from hunting and egg collecting. At least three species are considered at risk.
Penguins are threatened by climate change. Penguin populations have decreased by nearly 80 percent in some areas, and the majority of scientists agree that rising temperature due to climate change is the primary culprit.
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