These penguins are monogamous and can be found in their breeding colonies throughout the year although the main breeding seasons are from March to April and September to October, depending on the location (3) (7). The birds dig burrows into the sand or guano cliffs, or find small crevices in which to lay the eggs. Two eggs are laid over a period of two to four days, incubation taking between 40 and 42 days, with both adult birds sharing nest duties. The chicks usually hatch two days apart and are fed by both adults once they have acquired their first thick downy coats (3). Chicks rarely leave their nest scrape until they are fledged at about 12 weeks. They then fend for themselves along the coast for several months before returning to establish their own nests, often within the same colony where they were reared. They reach maturity at the age of two years (3).
Humboldt penguins exploit the cold waters off the South American west coast for food. The Humboldt Current flows northwards from Antarctica, and provides a rich harvest of fish, particularly anchovies, but the birds also feed on other fish species, krill and squid. Although they can reach depths of 150 metres, the birds rarely dive deeper than 60 metres (3).
These penguins have been popular exhibits in zoos for many years and have been known to live for up to 30 years in captivity. They rarely reach this age in the wild (3).