After the penguins have lived in the sea for three months, they are
ready to reproduce. All reproduction in penguins is sexual.
In March, Emperor Penguins must walk for 70 miles to reach the breeding
land. The whole purpose of this journey is to find a mate.
Penguins are monogamous, meaning they mate with one partner per year.
The ratio of females to males is 3:2, which creates competition between
the females in finding a mate. After a female finds a mate, the female lays an egg after 8
short months. The egg is kept in a pouch by her feet to keep it
warm, since the temperature drops in May. Since the females lose a third
of their body weight, they must return to the sea 70 miles away to find
food for themselves and their young. The egg is transferred to the
male's pouch and kept there for three months while the female finds
in Antarctica drops to -80 degrees Fahrenheit and males continue to function without food for 125 days. For
three months, the male waits patiently with the egg, keeping it warm. To keep the egg warm, the males huddle
together into tight formations consisting of hundreds or even thousands
of penguins. Finally, the egg hatches. In
August, the female makes a distinct noise to locate the male and chick,
since there are thousands of penguins in the area.
The chick is then fed, and now it is the father's turn to return back to sea
to capture food. They have lost half of their body weight and must walk
70 miles to return to the sea.
September has arrived, which is
when the ice starts to melt on the continent. This causes the
length between the sea and the breeding ground to condense down to 100
yards. This signals the time when the family parts to go their separate ways.
When the chicks are 150 days old, they are ready to live on their own.
The mother and father will never see their chick again. The cycle begins
again when the Emperor Penguins head back to the sea for 3 months to
live and feed. The chicks live at sea for four years, climb out of the
water, and march to the breeding ground when it becomes cold again.