Animals Wildlife Meet the Adorable Fairy Penguin, the Smallest Penguin Species on Earth! By Michael Graham Richard Writer University of Ottawa Michael Graham Richard is a writer from Ottawa, Ontario. He worked for Treehugger for 11 years, covering science, technology, and transportation. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Michael Graham Richard Updated June 23, 2020 credit: Wikimedia Share Twitter Pinterest Email Animals Wildlife Pets Animal Rights Endangered Species When we published an article about Maremma sheepdogs being used as 'bodyguards' to protect Fairy Penguins (aka Little Penguins, Blue Penguins, Kororā penguins, etc) from foxes, a lot of readers told us that they just loved the little blue guys and wanted more. So I figured, why not indulge a bit with a Fairy Penguin special feature! credit: Wikimedia The Emperor Penguin - star of the classic documentary March of the Penguins (2005) - might get all the press, being the biggest penguin around, but on the other end of the scale, the Fairy Penguin, the smallest penguin species, also deserves our attention. credit: Flickr The map shows where the Fairy Penguin subspecies can be found. The southern coast of Australia and New Zealand are their main range, but there are apparently also some possible sightings in Chile (quite a long way to go for the little blue guys!). credit: Wikimedia Fairy Penguins only grow to about 12-13 inches on average (30-33 cm), weighting in at a featherweight of around 3 pounds (1.5 kg). This shot provides some scale. You can really see just how small Fairy Penguins are compared to a human. credit: Flickr Like other penguin species, the Fairy Penguin's wings have evolved into flippers that are used to swim, not to fly. credit: Flickr Fairy Penguins have an average lifespan of 6.5 years, which is long for a bird, but some individuals have reached the ripe old age of 25 in captivity! credit: Wikimedia Trivia for computer geeks: The Linux operating system logo is a penguin. Linus Torvalds, the original creator of Linux, explained here that it was actually an encounter with a Fairy Penguin while on a trip to Australia that pushed him to select that mascot. credit: Flickr While the Fairy Penguin species is not currently considered to be threatened as a whole by the IUCN, some colonies are and have been threatened (for example, see this post about foxes attacking a colony on Middle Island). credit: Flickr Little penguins can breed simply as pairs, or in colonies. The male and female mature sexually at different ages (male: 3 years, female: 2 years), and during the breeding seasons and while hatching eggs, they remain faithful to their chosen partner. The female lays 1-2 eggs and incubates them for up to 36 days. credit: Flickr Ok, the educational portion of this program is over. Let's just look at a few more nice pictures of Fairy Penguins! credit: Flickr As you can see from the tags, these are in a zoo. credit: Flickr Thanks for reading this far, I hope you enjoyed these Little Blue Fairy Penguins as much as we did!