Logo du projet pour le Biodôme de Montréal See more of the Virtual Museum of Canada

Papa penguin

Image: Antarctic ecosystem
Antarctic ecosystem


October 1

In October, spring has already arrived in the Southern Hemisphere.

Image: inside the Antarctic ecosystem
inside the Antarctic ecosystem

October 4

The photoperiod in the Biodôme’s ecosystem changes. The days grow longer.

Image: gentoo penguin in Antarctique
gentoo penguin in Antarctique

October 11

The biological cycles of the penguins at the Biodôme are synchronized with those of their fellows in the subantarctic.

Image: rockhopper and macaroni penguins
rockhopper and macaroni penguins

October 18

Mating season began back in September for the rockhopper and macaroni penguins.

Image: gentoo penguin
gentoo penguin

October 22

The third species to begin mating at the Biodôme are the gentoo penguins. The king penguins will be the last.

Image: nesting platform
nesting platform

October 25

In late October, the divers install nesting platforms for the gentoo penguins and add nesting materials (pebbles).

Image: gentoo penguins
gentoo penguins

October 27

The gentoo penguins at the Biodôme live in pairs all year long, and normally mate for life — although there are exceptions to the rule, of course.


Video: recognizing each other

November 2

This is the signal that allows the two parents of a pair to recognize each other in the colony.

Video: building the nest

November 6

The male chooses the nesting site and builds the nest. But it is the female that chooses the male and the territory.

Gentoo penguins nest in spots free of snow and ice.

Image: pebbles

November 7

Nesting materials vary, but very often include pebbles.

There is a certain amount of competition for construction materials. Males can sometimes be spotted stealing pebbles from other nests.

Video: mating

November 8

Mating is always relatively brief and often quite acrobatic.

Image: incubating the eggs
incubating the eggs

November 11

After mating, the female lays two eggs, about three or four days apart.

They are both generally about the same size. They are placed one behind the other on the feet of the parent that is responsible for incubating them.

Image: incubating the eggs
incubating the eggs

November 16

During the brooding period, which lasts about 35 days, both parents, and not just the father, take turns on the nest. They bow to each other and stretch their heads toward the nest or skyward.

Image: défending the nest
défending the nest

November 24

During this period, they have to defend the nest, sometimes aggressively.


Image: gentoo penguin in the water
gentoo penguin in the water

December 8

While one of the parents stays on the nest, the other goes down to the water to swim and preen its plumage.

Video: hatching

December 18


In captivity, the survival rate for the two chicks is very high. In the wild, survival depends above all on the availability of food.

Image: chick in the nest
chick in the nest

December 31

The first ten days in the chicks’ lives are critical. Parents must protect them from the cold, for they can freeze to death.


Image: feeding the chick
feeding the chick

January 3

When the chicks hatch, the divers feed the parents four times a day so that the male and female can give their chicks enough to eat.

Video: feeding the chick

January 8

When the chicks are hungry, they peck their parents’ beaks, causing the adults to regurgitate.

At first, the parents regurgitate a fish “stew” for their young.

After one month, the chicks can manage whole fish, although they are still regurgitated by the parents

January 12

Eating at this rate, the chicks grow very quickly.

Image: young standing beside their parents
young standing beside their parents

January 16

The young have been standing up beside their parents for some time already. They are covered with grey and white down.

January 24

The chicks waddle around with their parents and sometimes meet up with other chicks.

Image: the young together
the young together

January 29

By late January it is time to form a crèche, by bringing all the young of the colony together in one place.

In the wild, a crèche allows both parents to hunt for food, to meet the growing needs of their chicks. It also protects the young ones from the cold and from predators.

At the Biodôme, spending time in the crèche allows the chicks to learn how to be fed by hand and gives them time to moult, away from the colony.

Image: gentoo penguin moulting
gentoo penguin moulting

January 31

More than two months after hatching, the chicks have finished moulting and become independent. The parents also renew their plumage once a year, after the mating period.

For more information:
Descriptive records

 Back: ecosystems  Antarctic    
 Strange birds  Papa penguin    
Home   Français   Comments   Credits   Biodôme Website    © Biodôme de Montréal, 2005. All rights reserved