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Lifespan or longevity

It is not easy to answer the question: "How long does a penguin live?" or "How old grows a penguin?" or "What is the life expectancy of a penguin?".
To answer such question, it takes a long term study of thousands of penguins. You have to band them and follow them for several years. As lots of chicks die in their infancy or during the first years of live, it still makes a guess at an average age of a penguin.

First of all I want to thank Barry Benefield, pengophile [his made up word for penguin lover], oklahoman, lawyer for poor people and indians and member of the Yahoo club Penguin Paradise who sent me his results to this question.

Before trying to give some specific values, I first want to cite some general remarks:

"The average lifespan of penguins is probably 15 to 20 years. Some individuals live considerably longer (Sparks and Soper, 1987)."
(Source: Longevity and causes of death : Seaworld)

"Penguins in captivity will live longer than penguins in the wild since they are fed nutrionally balanced meals and do not have to contend with predators. Generally, penguins will live from 15 to 20 years. A female Humboldt penguin in my study group (in captivity) lived to 17 years."
(Source: Kevin Welch)

"How long do penguins live? In the wild there haven't been any reliable long term studies of individual penguins that can tell how long they live. The only such study was carried out in the 1940's and 50's by Lance Richdale in New Zealand. He monitored a population of Yellow-eyed penguins over a 15 year period. Certainly there were some chicks that he saw hatch that survived through most of the study; so it is reasonable to put the lifespan of Yellow-eyed penguins at 15 years or more. The only other information comes from studies on captive birds. Zoos and aquaria often know how old their birds are when they die. However, the common causes of death in captivity (Avian Malaria and Aspergillosis) are not particularly prevalent in the wild so the experiences with captive birds are probably under-estimates. On the other hand the captive birds will not suffer starvation if fish stocks go down suddenly and they have no predators (such as leopard seals and killer whales) to kill them. Anyway, zoos reckon birds live 10 to 20 years depending on species, with the larger species generally being longer lived."
(Source: Pete and Barbara's penguin page FAQ's)

"The oldest known penguins are about 20 years old. Most penguins don't get that old however. Less than half of all chicks live through their first year of life and about 90% of the adult penguins live from one year to the next. The average age of a penguin that shows up at Palmer to breed is probably around 6 or 7 years old."
Source: Antwoord op "Penguin's life span" door John Carlson, Research Assistant, Dr. Fraser's Team,
Palmer Station, Antarctica, Sat, 15 Feb 1997, NASA)

In the tab pages I will try to give the average age for as much species as possible.

next chapter: Determination of sexe

Aptenodytes or large penguins

Each citation includes the source from where I found it, and is a link with the complete citation at the bottom.
These quotations are largely in English, to remain as correctly as possible.
When I should violate against copyright, please let me know and I will remove or change it.


Aptenodytes - largest penguins
Species Estimated lifespan Source Remarks
Emperor penguin 20 year Penguins around the world NASA: oldest was 50 year.
King penguin 10 - 20 year Falklands Conservation -

Sources

  1. "Emperor penguins can mate when they are 4 years old and can live to be 20 years of age."
    (Source: Penguins around the world)



  2. "If a penguin can survive infancy and its first years of life, it has a pretty good chance of living a fairly long life. Many penguin biologists have banded thousands and thousands of penguins and then followed which ones come to the colonies year after year. This is how we can guess at the average age of a penguin. The oldest known Adelie penguin living in the wild was 20 years old, and the big Emperor Penguins might live to as long as 50 years. If an Adelie penguins begins to breed early, say at 3 or 4 years of age, it is less likely to live to be 15 or 20 years old than if it waits until it is 7 or 8 years old to breed for the first time."
    (Source: Answer to "Antarctic penguin's life expectancy" by Carol Vleck, Research Assistant, Dr. Fraser's Team, Palmer Station, Antarctica, Fri, 7 Feb 1997, NASA)



  3. "It is difficult to find the right answers as there is no local detailed studies of Penguins demography in the Falklands. To estimate lifespan you have to determine survival rate of birds. The only known way to do so was by ringing birds. However, this practise has been abandoned for penguins as rings affect their own survival. From what has been published in studies around the world of penguins, your figures are not far off the mark:
    King Penguin: 10 to 20 years
    Gentoo: 4 to 7 years only
    Macaroni: 8 to 15 years
    Rockhopper: 6 to 10 years
    Magellanic: 7 to 16 years."
    (Source: Nic Huin (thanks) at Falklands Conservation in answer to my email)



next chapter: Determination of sexe

Pygoscelis or brush-tailed penguins

Each citation includes the source from where I found it, and is a link with the complete citation at the bottom.
These quotations are largely in English, to remain as correctly as possible.
When I should violate against copyright, please let me know and I will remove or change it.


Pygoscelis - brush tailed penguins
Species Estimated lifespan Source Remarks
Adelie penguin oldest registrated is 20 year NASA -
11 year or older Penguin Biology -
Gentoo penguin 15 till 20 year Animal Diversity Web -
15 year Welt der Pinguine -
4 - 7 year Falklands Conservation -
Chinstrap penguin - - -

Sources

  1. "If a penguin can survive infancy and its first years of life, it has a pretty good chance of living a fairly long life. Many penguin biologists have banded thousands and thousands of penguins and then followed which ones come to the colonies year after year. This is how we can guess at the average age of a penguin. The oldest known Adelie penguin living in the wild was 20 years old, and the big Emperor Penguins might live to as long as 50 years. If an Adelie penguins begins to breed early, say at 3 or 4 years of age, it is less likely to live to be 15 or 20 years old than if it waits until it is 7 or 8 years old to breed for the first time."
    (Source: Answer to "Antarctic penguin's life expectancy" by Carol Vleck, Research Assistant, Dr. Fraser's Team, Palmer Station, Antarctica, Fri, 7 Feb 1997, NASA)



  2. "Richsdale's (1957) study of the yellow-eyed penguin covered 16 breeding seasons and reported no change in mortality rates for penguins between 2 and 16 years;...
    For the Adelie penguin Ainley and de Master (1980) analyzed recoveries from more than 10000 chicks banded over 8 years at Ross Island, Antarctica. They reported that, for breeding birds, mortality decreased from 3 or 4 until 11 years or older. Among mature birds there was some nonbreeding, especially among males, and for those nonbreeders mortality was lower than for breeders, the difference being attributed to reduced risk of exposure to predation by leopard seals lurking at the seaward edge of the colony. Ainley et al. (1983) reanalyzed much of the same data and apparently repudiated many of the earlier conclusions regarding changes in mortality with age. While accepting that breeding imposes an added risk to survival, their definitive model assumes annual mortality is constant at 10,6 % from age 2 on.
    For the royal penguin, Carrick (1972) reported that 5- to 11-year old breeders experienced an annual mortality of 20 % compared with 17 % for the nonbreeders. "

    (Source: p.79 in the book "Penguin biology", written by Lloyd S. Davis and John T. Darby)



  3. "Gentoo: Their average lifespan is from 15 to 20 years."
    (Source: Animal Diversity Web, based on the book "Penguins" by Roger Tory Peterson, 1979)



  4. "...Eselspinguin. In der freie Natur werden die Tiere ungefähr 15 Jahre alt."

    Translated: "...Gentoo. In the wild these animals reach an age of about 15 years."
    (Source: p.52 in the book "Die Welt der Pinguine", written by Prof. Culik and Prof. Wilson)



  5. "It is difficult to find the right answers as there is no local detailed studies of Penguins demography in the Falklands. To estimate lifespan you have to determine survival rate of birds. The only known way to do so was by ringing birds. However, this practise has been abandoned for penguins as rings affect their own survival. From what has been published in studies around the world of penguins, your figures are not far off the mark:
    King Penguin: 10 to 20 years
    Gentoo: 4 to 7 years only
    Macaroni: 8 to 15 years
    Rockhopper: 6 to 10 years
    Magellanic: 7 to 16 years."
    (Source: Nic Huin (thanks) at Falklands Conservation in answer to my email)



next chapter: Determination of sexe

Spheniscus or banded penguins

Each citation includes the source from where I found it, and is a link with the complete citation at the bottom.
These quotations are largely in English, to remain as correctly as possible.
When I should violate against copyright, please let me know and I will remove or change it.


Spheniscus - banded penguins
Species Estimated lifespan Source Remarks
African penguin average 10-11 year, max. 24 year Phil Hockey In the Zoo at Rotterdam (NL), one is 34 year (July 2000)
10 - 11 year Simonstown records of 24 year old
Humboldt penguin - Kevin Welch In captivity 17 year
Estimated 20 year in the wild Woodland ParkZoo till 30 year in zoos
12 year Roger Williams ParkZoo till 20 year in captivity
Magellannic penguin 7 - 16 year Falklands Conservation -
Galapagos penguin - Dee Boersma more than 10 year

Sources

  1. "African Lifespan: average 10-11 years, maximum 24 years."
    (Source: p.6 of the book "The African penguin - a natural history" written by Phil Hockey)



  2. "African penguins live an average of 10 to 11 years but sometimes reach as much as 24 years.."
    (Source: Simonstown)



  3. "Penguins in captivity will live longer than penguins in the wild since they are fed nutrionally balanced meals and do not have to contend with predators. Generally, penguins will live from 15 to 20 years. A female Humboldt penguin in my study group (in captivity) lived to 17 years."
    (Source: Kevin Welch)



  4. "Humboldt: Life Span Approximately 20 years in the wild; up to 30 years at zoos."
    (Source: Woodland Park Zoo)



  5. "Humboldt : How long? The lifespan of penguins is 12 years (up to 20 years in captivity). "
    (Source: Roger Williams Park Zoo)



  6. "It is difficult to find the right answers as there is no local detailed studies of Penguins demography in the Falklands. To estimate lifespan you have to determine survival rate of birds. The only known way to do so was by ringing birds. However, this practise has been abandoned for penguins as rings affect their own survival. From what has been published in studies around the world of penguins, your figures are not far off the mark:
    King Penguin: 10 to 20 years
    Gentoo: 4 to 7 years only
    Macaroni: 8 to 15 years
    Rockhopper: 6 to 10 years
    Magellanic: 7 to 16 years."
    (Source: Nic Huin (thanks) at Falklands Conservation in answer to my email)



  7. "Galapagos : I know of one wild bird that was more than 10 years of age. He was banded in the 1960's and I found him 11 years later."
    (Source: Answer by Dee Boersma to my email)

next chapter: Determination of sexe

Eudyptes or crested penguins

Each citation includes the source from where I found it, and is a link with the complete citation at the bottom.
These quotations are largely in English, to remain as correctly as possible.
When I should violate against copyright, please let me know and I will remove or change it.


Eudyptes - crested penguins
Species Estimated lifespan Source Remarks
Macaroni penguin 8 - 15 year Falklands Conservation -
Fiordland penguin - - -
Erect-crested penguin - - -
Snares crested penguin - - -
Royal penguin 5 to 11 year Penguin Biology -
Rockhopper 10 year Animal Diversity Web -
6 - 10 year Falklands Conservation -

Sources

  1. "It is difficult to find the right answers as there is no local detailed studies of Penguins demography in the Falklands. To estimate lifespan you have to determine survival rate of birds. The only known way to do so was by ringing birds. However, this practise has been abandoned for penguins as rings affect their own survival. From what has been published in studies around the world of penguins, your figures are not far off the mark:
    King Penguin: 10 to 20 years
    Gentoo: 4 to 7 years only
    Macaroni: 8 to 15 years
    Rockhopper: 6 to 10 years
    Magellanic: 7 to 16 years."
    (Source: Nic Huin (thanks) at Falklands Conservation in answer to my email)



  2. "The average lifespan of a Rockhopper Penguin is 10 years."
    (Source: Animal Diversity Web)



  3. "Richsdale's (1957) study of the yellow-eyed penguin covered 16 breeding seasons and reported no change in mortality rates for penguins between 2 and 16 years;...
    For the Adelie penguin Ainley and de Master (1980) analyzed recoveries from more than 10000 chicks banded over 8 years at Ross Island, Antarctica. They reported that, for breeding birds, mortality decreased from 3 or 4 until 11 years or older. Among mature birds there was some nonbreeding, especially among males, and for those nonbreeders mortality was lower than for breeders, the difference being attributed to reduced risk of exposure to predation by leopard seals lurking at the seaward edge of the colony. Ainley et al. (1983) reanalyzed much of the same data and apparently repudiated many of the earlier conclusions regarding changes in mortality with age. While accepting that breeding imposes an added risk to survival, their definitive model assumes annual mortality is constant at 10,6 % from age 2 on.
    For the royal penguin, Carrick (1972) reported that 5- to 11-year old breeders experienced an annual mortality of 20 % compared with 17 % for the nonbreeders. "

    (Source: p.79 in the book "Penguin biology", written by Lloyd S. Davis and John T. Darby)



next chapter: Determination of sexe

Eudyptula or little penguins

Each citation includes the source from where I found it, and is a link with the complete citation at the bottom.
These quotations are largely in English, to remain as correctly as possible.
When I should violate against copyright, please let me know and I will remove or change it.


Eudyptula - little penguins
Species Estimated lifespan Source Remarks
Little penguin individuals can grow till 25 year old. Dave Houston -
7 year Gabo Count -
7 year Phillip Island Nature Park oldest here is 25 year

Sources

  1. "Blue penguins usually breed for the first time at 2-3 years of age. Long term partnerships are the norm, but divorce is not uncommon. There is a high rate of juvenile mortality, but individuals can reach up to 25 years of age."
    (Source: Dave Houston)



  2. "Fairy penguins live on average for 7 years, and some retain the same mate for life."
    (Source: Gabo count, based on the book "Little Penguin: Fairy Penguins in Australia" by Colin Stahel and Rosemary Gales, New South Wales University Press, 1987)



  3. "The average age a Little Penguin lives is said to be 7 years. However we have one banded Little Penguin in our colony that is now 25 years old."
    (Source: Answer from Phillip Island Nature Park to my e-mail)



next chapter: Determination of sexe

Megadyptes or yellow-eyed penguins

Each citation includes the source from where I found it, and is a link with the complete citation at the bottom.
These quotations are largely in English, to remain as correctly as possible.
When I should violate against copyright, please let me know and I will remove or change it.


Megadyptes - yellow-eyed penguin
Species Estimated lLifespan Source Remarks
Yellow-eyed penguin till 24 year Dave Houston -
between 2 and 16 year Penguin Biology -

Sources

  1. "First breeding occurs at 3-4 years of age and long term partnerships are formed. Yellow-eyed penguins may live for up to 24 years."
    (Source: Dave Houston)



  2. "Richsdale's (1957) study of the yellow-eyed penguin covered 16 breeding seasons and reported no change in mortality rates for penguins between 2 and 16 years;...
    For the Adelie penguin Ainley and de Master (1980) analyzed recoveries from more than 10000 chicks banded over 8 years at Ross Island, Antarctica. They reported that, for breeding birds, mortality decreased from 3 or 4 until 11 years or older. Among mature birds there was some nonbreeding, especially among males, and for those nonbreeders mortality was lower than for breeders, the difference being attributed to reduced risk of exposure to predation by leopard seals lurking at the seaward edge of the colony. Ainley et al. (1983) reanalyzed much of the same data and apparently repudiated many of the earlier conclusions regarding changes in mortality with age. While accepting that breeding imposes an added risk to survival, their definitive model assumes annual mortality is constant at 10,6 % from age 2 on.
    For the royal penguin, Carrick (1972) reported that 5- to 11-year old breeders experienced an annual mortality of 20 % compared with 17 % for the nonbreeders. "

    (Source: p.79 in the book "Penguin biology", written by Lloyd S. Davis and John T. Darby)



next chapter: Determination of sexe
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