Area of zoo
Enclosure status
Population in the wild
IUCN status
Scientific name
Eudyptes moseleyi
Steep, rocky coasts.

Rockhopper penguin facts 

  • Rockhoppers are one of the world’s smallest penguins, reaching 50 cm tall, but they have big personalities!
  • As well as giving loud cries, these birds shake their yellow eyebrows to attract a mate. Nests are usually small scrapes lined with vegetation. Parents take turn looking after the egg, both not being afraid to peck at anything that strays too close.
  • During breeding season, rockhoppers congregate in large colonies. They annual return to the same breeding ground, often returning to the same nest with the same partner.
  • When raising their chicks, both rockhoppers will help keep the egg warm. The pair also acts very aggressively to anything that may come too close to their brood, often pecking threats away
  • Due to their rocky habitat, rockhoppers can’t slide on their bellies to get around. Instead, these penguins hop to get around, hence the name!
  • There are two species of rockhopper penguin, the northern and southern, both look very similar.

What do rockhopper penguins eat?

Krill, squid, octopus, fish, molluscs, plankton, cuttlefish and crustaceans.

Rockhopper penguin with beak open
Ricky the rockhopper penguin at Whipsnade Zoo

What do rockhopper penguins look like?

Rockhoppers are one of the smallest penguins that are recognisable by their spiky yellow and black crests on their head.

Where do rockhopper penguins live?

Southern Oceans, but travel as far north as the southern most tip of Africa and South America.

Rockhopper penguin threats

Pollution from oil spills, overfishing and hunting by seals and sharks.

Facts about animals

  • Chimps at Whipsnade Zoo
    Pan troglodytes


    Chimps are more closely related to humans than gorillas.

  • African lion Khari lying in the grass at Whipsnade Zoo

    African lion

    Discover African lion facts before visiting our lion at Whipsnade Zoo

  • Ruby the red panda in a tree at Whipsnade Zoo

    Red Panda

    Discover red panda facts before visiting our red pandas at Whipsnade Zoo

  • Ruby the red panda in a tree at Whipsnade Zoo

    Asian short-clawed otter

    Discover red panda facts before visiting our red pandas at Whipsnade Zoo

  • A European brown bear in her woodland home at Whipsnade Zoo

    European brown bear

    European brown bears have large paws, and claws that can grow up to 10cm long

  • Heidi the reindeer browsing at the zoo
    Rangifer tarandus


    How do reindeer change their eye colour, survive icy winters and why Rudolph is actually female.

  • Burrowing owl perched on a person's hand
    Athene cunicularia

    Burrowing owl

    The only owl species in the world to live underground, our burrowing animals show off their unique behaviours at Birds of the World.

  • Wallaby at Whipsnade Zoo on frosty autumn morning
    Macropus rufogriseus


    A wallaby pregnancy is only one month long, followed by nine months in the poach. They are only around 1cm long at birth.

  • Our animals