A King penguin has waddled onto a Buffels Bay beach in Cape Point, surprising visitors and park rangers.
The penguin, second in size to the Emperor penguin, arrived at the beach in the morning and has been wondering around since.
SANPark officials said in a tweet that the arrival has gained a lot of interest from birders so they will be keeping rangers on site for crowd control.
“We urge the public to keep their distance from the penguin as his activity will be monitored over the next few days,” they said.
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The king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is the second largest species of penguin. They are mostly found around the Sub-Antarctic, so this dude is far from home! They weigh up to 17 kg and can reach a height of 100 cm! These cool little dudes feed on small fish, squid or crustaceans and have been know to dive up to 300 m deep when hunting! Once a young penguin leaves the colony, they are unlikely to return for at least three years when it is ready to mate. Mating season for these birds is usually between September and November when they return to the beaches from their hunting grounds. They normally spend about 3 weeks on the beach with their mate and then they head back out to the hunting grounds. It's during this mating period that moulting also takes place. The pair (in this case, one lonesome little dude) would then stay on the beach with their egg, taking turns carrying it on their feet, keeping it warm and eventually care for the chick in a similar manner. Currently their population is estimated at about 4 million and these cool little tuxedoed guys can live up to 30 years old in the wild. This guy seemed quite warm but didn't look too stressed out, and the rangers had everything and everyone under control. Let's hope he or she, because these guys are sexually dimorphic, gets back to the rest of the colony safely. 🐧 PS. Today is the day I start saving for a DSLR, my videos/photos have not done this penguin justice. Keen to see your footage @jasonboswell 🤙🏼
SANCCOB have already assessed the surprise visitor and determined that there were no medical concerns, leaving him to go about his business.
While South Africa is known for its penguin populations, King penguins are not endemic to this region. Rather, they are found on sub-Antarctic islands. This means that this visitor has swam roughly between 2000 and 6000 km to get here.
It is not entirely unheard of for them to occasionally swim in our waters and arrive on our shores. In 2017, a King Penguin who was in arrested moult and injured washed up in Hout Bay.