Watch the World’s Smallest Penguins Take New York

A colony of Australian little penguins have come to live at the Bronx Zoo.
May 22, 2015·
Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

If you’ve ever thought the only thing that could be cuter than a baby penguin would be a baby penguin that never grows up, your wish has sort of come true. It turns out there’s a species of little penguins officially called...the little penguin.

At just over a foot tall and weighing only two to three pounds full grown, little penguins are the smallest penguins in the world. They’re also called fairy penguins, and you could go with “blue penguins” as well—a name that references the blue tone of the species’ feathers—and still be understood by the average penguin expert.

The nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society has just put a breeding colony of the birds on exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. It’s the first time the diminutive species has been in residence in New York, according to WCS. “The little penguins are acclimating well to their new home and are quite a sight to see,” said Jim Breheny, general director of the WCS zoos and aquarium, in a statement.

Little penguins are listed as a species “of least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of endangered species—although at least one population, a breeding colony in Sydney Harbor, has been declared endangered by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.

Little penguin wild populations are declining overall, however, in part because of the impacts of climate change. Recent studies show that more intense coastal storms, warming waters, and changing ocean currents drive off the krill, small fish, and squid that little penguins feed on. Swimming farther from their nests to find food puts a lot of stress on the adult birds, leading to underweight chicks and lower chick survival rates.