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Penguins have created the world's largest crèche

The King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicusis, the second largest species of Penguin at about 11 to 16 kg (24 to 35 lb), second only to the Emperor Penguin.

King Penguins breed on the Subantartic islands at the northern reaches of Antartica, South Georgia, and other temperate islands of the region. The total population is estimated to be 2.23 million pairs.

Parental instinct takes over in the inhospitable climate of the South Atlantic and the chicks with their long, brown, downy coats are made to crowd together to retain their body warmth in the equivalent of bird creches,creating the world's largest creche.

The King Penguin has an unusually prolonged breeding cycle, taking some 14–16 months from laying to offspring fledging. Although pairs will attempt to breed annually, they are generally only successful one year in two, or two years in three in a triennial pattern on South Georgia. The reproductive cycle begins in September to November, as birds return to colonies for a prenuptial moult. Those that were unsuccessful in breeding the previous season will often arrive earlier. They then return to the sea for three weeks before coming ashore in November or December. The female penguin lays one pyriform (pear-shaped) white egg.  It darkens to a pale greenish colour. The egg is incubated for around 55 days with both birds sharing incubation in shifts of 6–18 days each. Hatching may take up to 2–3 days to complete. They have only a thin covering of down and are entirely dependent on their parents for food and warmth. The young chick is brooded in what is called the guard phase, spending its time balanced on its parents' feet and sheltered by its pouch. During this time, the parents alternate every 3–7 days, one incubating while the other forages. This period lasts for 30–40 days before the chicks form large creches. Thr parents leave the chick at a crèche while going fishing as a few adult penguins stay behind to look after them. Other varieties of penguins also practice this method of communal care for offspring.

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