Can You Have a Penguin as a Pet?

No, having a penguin as a pet is an extremely impractical procedure, let alone a legal act. Their captivity, even at animal care facilities, is highly regulated because of their status as an endangered species. Despite being adorable and sociable with people, penguins are not ideal to own as pets.

It is because penguins will require high care, intensive maintenance, and precise environmental conditions to survive domestication. All these factors are impossible to maintain.

Furthermore, there are no veterinarian specialists qualified enough to treat a penguin in case of an emergency.

This serves as confirmation that not all cute and harmless wild animals can be domesticated. Let’s go into more detail about keeping penguins as pets and learn everything.

Can You Have a Penguin as a Pet? Do They Like Being a Pet?

Sadly, it is unachievable to have a penguin as a pet. Because keeping a penguin as a pet will demand you to provide them with conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible. These conditions are not only impossible to maintain, but they will also severely damage the existence of the poor animal.


Moreover, all penguins are protected under the Endangered Species Act. It means that all the activities, including adoption, that can threaten the existence of penguins are prohibited.

Although they can interact and bond with humans, they do not like being pets. Penguins do not easily adapt to new environments. Therefore, removing them from their natural living space will affect their behaviors and life cycles.

Why Can’t You Pet Penguins?

Penguins are illegal to be kept as pets because of their conservatory laws. Different penguin species are on the verge of extinction. Therefore, wildlife authorities have taken strict actions to protect their integrity.

Even zoo owners and other wildlife facilities have to go through extensive law procedures and paperwork to get ownership of penguins.

Even if someone successfully obtains a penguin, petting them is impossible.

  •  Penguins are used to living in large colonies. Therefore, you must pet at least 20 penguins to ensure their survival. Taking care of one penguin is already hard enough, providing a group of 20 will be impossible.
  • Penguins eat pounds of fresh fish to fulfill their voracious appetites. It will cost a lot of money to feed these penguins a huge supply of fresh fish every day. Also, it is impossible to obtain a plentiful supply of fish every day.
  • The excretory waste of penguins have a really bad odor. It will be impossible for you and your neighbors to always tolerate this stink.
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Why Wouldn’t Penguins Make the Best Pets?

Penguins can never ever make the best pets. Penguins are a wild, exotic species that cannot adapt to built-in surroundings. Their bodies are created to survive only in their natural habitats.

Their physical, physiological, and behavioral requirements cannot be fulfilled in captivation and domestication. Keeping these kinds of animals as pets is abusive and threatens their existence.

Therefore, rather than removing these endangered animals from their ecosystems, we should take steps to conserve their natural habitats. Letting these animals live a peaceful life freely in the wild is far better than keeping them as pets.

Can You Have a Baby Penguin as a Pet?


No, you can’t. Keeping a penguin as a pet is illegal, even if they are baby penguins. When penguins lay eggs, they sit on them for incubation. The penguin chick hatches from the egg after a predetermined length of time. The adult penguins feed their chicks with food already stored in their stomach.

During this stage, a newborn penguin can die if it is taken away from its parent. Penguin chicks need the care and warmth of their parents to grow properly into adult penguins.

No artificial environments and conditions can replicate the comfort of a parent penguin. So, keeping a baby penguin as a pet will endanger its life. It is illegal as well as morally unethical.

How Much Do Pet Penguins Cost?

Having an unconventional wild animal as a pet can be really expensive. Purchasing a penguin will burn a hole in your wallet because it is illegal to deal with penguins. In the black market, one estimate places the price of a single penguin between $500 and $20,000.

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Moreover, you must buy at least 10-20 penguins to fulfill their social needs. So, multiply the cost of one penguin by 20. Also, it is quite costly to create the ideal living conditions necessary for their survival.

This includes a shelter with chilled temperatures, clean water sources, and anything that can mimic their natural habitat.

Keeping pet penguins requires a significant financial outlay if we also factor in the price of the pounds of fresh fish that will be needed every day. Still, nothing can ensure that a penguin is going to survive in these man-made environments or not.

Is It Legal to Have a Pet Penguin? Can One Legally Own a Penguin and Keep It at Home?

Under wildlife protection laws, no one can have a penguin as a pet. Among the 18 species of penguins, five are endangered and five are near threatened.


This law is accepted all around the globe and guarantees the protection of all the populations of penguin species. Thus, owing to these strict laws and regulations, it is illegal to have a pet penguin. 

Keeping a penguin at home is not only illegal but also insensitive and inhumane. It is because penguins evolved to only survive in their natural biomes. In artificial settings, it is impossible to provide all of the elements of a true habitat.

Therefore, we should allow these animals to flourish and prosper in their natural homes.

Who have held/petted a penguin: A Case Study

Although, it is illegal and cruel to hold a penguin captive or keep it as a pet. But there is a wholesome case of a petted penguin. It is the story of an English teacher, Tom Michell.

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During his vacation on the beaches of Uruguay, Tom Michell rescued a penguin covered in oil and tart. He cleaned and treated the penguin. Once the penguin was in perfect health, Tom took him back to the sea. However, the little penguin grew to be so connected to Tom that he repeatedly turned around to pursue him ~(Source).

After various tries, Tom decided to take the penguin to his hometown. He named the penguin Juan Salvador.


Do penguins like cuddles?

No, penguins are wild animal species. They can sense the presence of a human around them as a threat. Therefore, only skilled people should come closer to the penguins.

Can penguins be house pets?

No, penguins do not make good house pets. They are exotic animals and have survival requirements that can never be fulfilled in a house.

Can you have an emperor penguin as a pet?

Emperor Penguins come under the Red list of endangered species given by IUCN. Thus, it is illegal to pet an Emperor penguin because this practice will further damage their population.


Everyone loves and adores penguins. They are curious and harmless birds. But this does not allow anyone to capture and keep them as pets. Penguins are untamed animals and can never be domesticated. They belong to nature, and we should allow them to live peacefully in their suitable habitats.

It is inhumane and unkind to keep a penguin captive at your home just for the sake of your satisfaction. Keeping penguin pets can also cause anyone to go bankrupt.

It is because creating a suitable at-home environment for penguins is very expensive. Therefore, we should express our love for the penguins by protecting their populations and natural homes.

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