Yellow-eyed penguin

This vanishing New-Zealander is the most endangered penguin species

Richard Giddins

The yellow-eyed penguin is one of the rarest & most ancient of all living penguins. Features include a yellow uncrested band passing across the crown up-to-the eyes & a black-flecked yellowish face with fawn-brown sides.

Endemic to New Zealand with the New Zealand subantarctic populations genetically distinct from those in the South Island. Non-colonial species with nesting sites in coastal forests, regenerating coastal scrub, plantations, and cliffs may be up to a kilometer inland. They are an exclusive benthic forager.

Today an estimated population is 3400 & trends indicate the possibility of local extinction in the next 20 to 40 years; the main threats include habitat degradation & introduced predators.


Population est.
New Zealand
Official estimate
Pacific ocean

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Colony

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Yellow-eyed penguin on banknotes

New Zealand 5 Dollar