Are Penguins Endangered? [Explained]

Yes, penguins are endangered species. In fact, out of 18 total existing species of penguins, half of them are facing severe extinction crises. According to different reports, it is also claimed that if we do not take immediate steps, penguins will completely disappear from the face of this planet in 2100.

You must be wondering how penguins became an endangered species despite living farthest from the human population. Well, there are various human activities that are directly and indirectly contributing to their extinction.

If you want to learn more about the extinction of penguins, its cause, and steps being taken to protect this species, let’s dive deep into our article.

Are Penguins Endangered or Threatened?

Over the past few decades, the majestic species of penguins have been facing the terrible effects of harsh climate conditions. This has put the species on the verge of extinction.


To address and minimize this threat, US Fish And Wildlife Service has officially marked the penguins as threatened species in this list. This step will ensure the protection of this species under the Endangered Species Act. Also, this listing will make sure that multinational firms are forced to find a means to lower the carbon pollution that results from their activities.

Martha Williams, the director of the US Fish And Wildlife Service, has also stated that:

Climate change is one of the major factors putting many animal species in jeopardy. Nowadays, it’s a main concern to give it a priority. Due to the same fact, the emperor penguins are also close to endangerment.

Year-Wise Endangerment: A Study to Penguins Endangerment (2020 -2022)

This section will study how different penguin species were pushed towards endangerment during previous years. 

a) Penguins endangered in 2020

In 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature published a red list of endangered and threatened species of penguins. This report forced all of the wildlife preservation authorities to take the necessary actions to protect these endangered penguins.

The list for 2020 included the following:

  • Yellow-Eyed Penguins
  • Galapagos Penguins
  • African Penguins
  • Northern Rockhopper Penguins
  • Erect-Crested Penguins

b) Penguins endangered in 2021

In 2021, there was no new addition to the previous list of endangered penguin species. Although, more frequent climate crises moved the already endangered species further towards extinction.

c) Penguins endangered in 2022

In 2022, US Fish And Wildlife Service labeled the Emperor penguins as endangered species. At the same time, previously endangered species did not make any progress toward recovery.

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Why Did the Penguins Become Endangered?

Penguins cannot quickly adapt to new environments. The ever-changing climate of the world is disturbing their natural cycles, habitats, and behaviors. 

Following are the factors that are pushing penguins towards endangerment by making their survival difficult:

  • Global Warming: Drastic climate change due to global warming is the primary culprit that is threatening the survival of penguins. This global warming is not just heating up the earth but is also raising the temperature of ice water that penguins need for feeding.
  • Ice Melt: Ice is the natural habitat of penguins. They need it for breeding, hiding, nesting, and resting. Global warming is causing polar ice to melt and freeze in irregular patterns. Due to this, the reproductive cycle of the penguins is extremely suffering. They are losing their habitat due to the rapid melting of the sea ice.
  • Food Shortage: Krill fish is the primary food source for penguins. Increasing seawater acidification, ice melting, commercial fishing, and tourism are diminishing the food sources of penguins. Thus, leading them toward extinction.      

Where Are Penguins Endangered?

Global warming

There are 18 different species of penguins, most of which are found in the southern hemisphere of the globe.

Here, we have compiled a list of the geographic breeding ranges of the endangered species using the Penguin Conservation Status guide provided by Penguin International.

  1. South Atlantic Ocean: Northern Rockhopper is an endangered penguin species inhabiting the islands of the South Atlantic Ocean. These islands include Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha.
  2. New Zealand: New Zealand is home to two species of penguins that are in danger of extinction. One species is the Erect-Crested Penguin and the other is the Yellow-eyed Penguin. It is also said that yellow-eyed penguins are the rarest alive penguins.
  3. South Africa: African Penguins are the endangered penguins of South Africa. They primarily inhabit Namibia and False Bay.
  4. South America: Galapagos Penguins, breeding on the islands of the Galapagos and Ecuador, are also listed under the endangered penguin species. 

Are Emperor Penguins on The Endangered Species List? 

Yes, Emperor Penguins have been labeled “Threatened” in the red list of endangered species published by The International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Emperor penguins have been facing serious survival threats due to the destruction of their habitats.

We also had to deal with the tragedy of the second-largest emperor colony, Halley Bay, collapsing in 2016.   

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Reasons of the Endangerment of Emperor Penguins

Emperor penguins are one of the two species that are entirely native to Antarctica. This species of penguin is facing a constant decline in its population due to climate change and human activities.

  • Sea ice and glaciers are readily disappearing due to global warming, leaving the emperor penguins with no home. 
  • Greenhouse gasses, carbon pollution, the heat released by fossil fuels, and extensive industrialization are also the lead factors of penguins’ habitat destruction.
  • Survival of the emperor penguins is also challenged by the shortage of food. This problem is occurring due to unregulated commercial fishing, oil spills, warm water, and ocean acidification.

Why Are Galapagos Penguins Endangered?


The species of Galapagos penguins are threatened with extinction due to the severe effects of global warming and human activities.

With barely 800 recorded breeding pairs, their population is the smallest. Owing to these statistics, Galapagos penguins are listed as endangered species in the red list of IUCN.

Following are the primary reasons for the Galapagos penguins’ endangerment:

  • The population of Galapagos penguins suffered a great demise of 70% during the EI Nino event of 1982 and 1998. This caused the already small population of Galapagos penguins to shrink more.
  • Islands of the Galapagos are close to the equator, which means warmer environmental conditions. Under the influence of drastic climate change, the temperature of ocean water rose, causing food shortages for the penguins.
  •  Shortage of land for nesting, lethal predators, and unregulated tourists are also generating harmful impacts on the habitat of these birds.

How Many Penguins Are There Left in The World In 2022?

Out of the 18 species of penguins, some of them are endangered, while others are either threatened or vulnerable. The individuals of all species of penguins would make up 30 to 31 million penguins on earth.

Let’s take a closer look at the population statistics of those penguin species that are marked as endangered by the IUCN.

Species NamePopulation Number
Yellow-Eyed Penguins2600-3000
Galapagos Penguins1200
Northern Rockhopper Penguins413,700
Erect-Crested Penguins150,000
African Penguins41,700
Emperor Penguins476,680

These values are taken from IUCN’s report on penguins’ population in 2020.

Can We Save Penguins? Solutions That Can Help Save The Penguins


Yes, we can save penguins by taking immediate steps for their protection. If we do not take strict measures to minimize the threats to their existence, we will end up facing their irreversible loss.

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Following are the solutions that can help save the penguins:

  • Wildlife preservation authorities need to take action to reduce the sources of carbon gas and greenhouse gas emission. This will help in reducing global warming.
  • We should cut short our usage of fossil fuels and coal burning. In this way, we can prevent unnecessary heat emissions in the environment.
  • Governments should regulate commercial and industrial fishing. So, penguins do not face a shortage of food. They should also restrict fishing around the areas inhabited by the penguins.
  • The wildlife authorities should also protect the nests and breeding locations of penguins.


Are fairy penguins endangered?

No, fairy penguins are not endangered. According to the IUCN, they are the least concerned species of penguins.

Are little penguins endangered?

No, little penguins do not come under the threat of endangerment. These penguins have sustained and stable populations. Little penguins are also known as fairy penguins.

Are African penguins endangered?

Yes, African penguins are classified as “endangered” by the IUCN. These penguins had just a total of 41,700 individuals in 2020.  

Are Galapagos penguins endangered?

Yes, Galapagos penguins are extremely endangered, with only 1200 species existing. These penguins have the smallest population.

Are Adélie penguins endangered?

No, Adélie penguins have a healthy and growing population. In fact, these penguins have the greatest population density of any penguin species.

Are macaroni penguins endangered?

Macaroni penguins are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. It means that they will soon become endangered if we do not take any action.

Are yellow-eyed penguins endangered?

Yes, yellow-eyed penguins are endangered, with only 3000 individuals left. These penguins are the rarest species of penguins.

Are North Rockhopper penguins endangered?

Yes, these penguins are under threat of extinction. But if we take suitable measures, we can stop the population of this species from declining.


The loss of a species due to extinction is not just a tragic event; it also imposes effects on the habits and food chains of other species. Penguins are majestic animals with interesting behaviors and life cycles. But progressive human activities are putting the lives of these adorable creatures at stake.

It is also important for us to understand that we need to protect our biodiversity along with our own progress. We should consider ourselves responsible for the lives of all other animals. With this, we will be able to regulate our industrial revolution in a way that does not affect our biodiversity.

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