New penguin colony arrives at Antwerp Zoo


Antwerp Zoo is now home to a colony of African penguins, the only species of penguin native to the African continent

Zoo to start breeding programme

A new colony of 30 African penguins (Spheniscus demersus), also known as the jackass penguin for its infamous bray, has taken up residence at Antwerp Zoo. They are housed in the quarters occupied until last year by a group of Humboldt penguins, which were transferred to the animal park Planckendael in Mechelen.

The new habitat (pictured) resembles the penguins’ natural environment on the south-west coast of Africa – sand, rocks and dune grasses. Each of the penguins has a black mark on its forehead and a pattern of black spots against its white chest and stomach. Like fingerprints, those markings are unique to the individual bird.

The penguins are native to the African coast from Angola to South Africa; S. demersus is the only species of penguin native to the African continent. Numbers in recent years have dropped from around one million to barely 80,000, mainly as a result of overfishing and marine pollution. Antwerp Zoo hopes to begin a successful breeding programme.

The penguins will soon be able to use the newly restored Rotonde, which dates from 1878. They will be joined by its former residents, the flamingos, who have been lodging temporarily at Planckendael while works were carried out. 

Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp Zoo is one of the oldest and best-conserved zoos in the world. The zoo buildings and gardens are registered as protected Flemish heritage.
Kai-Mook - In 2009, Kai-Mook, the first baby elephant born on Belgian soil, dominated national and international headlines for weeks.
Founding - The Zoo was established by former Antwerp mayor Jans Frans Loos. After visiting Amsterdam’s zoo, he decided it was time for Antwerp to get its own.
Short - In colloquial Flemish speech, Antwerp Zoo has long gone by the simple name “De Zoo”.
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Zoo opens


surface area in hectares

5 000