Wild Animals/Do penguins?


Hi Dyan, hope you are doing alright. Do penguins have any feelings and emotions? What kind of emotions do they have, behave out and feel? I heard on a Mr. Popper's Penguins movie interview that this animal scientist who worked with the penguins for the movie said they don't show many emotions and in a way the penguins behaved much like domestic chickens. Penguins don't have or show much emotions. Fear is the only emotion they have. He had said. Is this all true? Is he right? I know penguins don't show or have as much emotions as humans do and theirs is far far more simple emotions. So what are your answers on this topic of penguin emotions?

Hi Jocelyn,

I hope you are well. My apologies for the delay in responding to your question - for some reason, it did not come through to my e-mail. (I just got an alert from AllExperts saying there was a message pending that hadn't gone through.)

At any rate, I believe all animals have emotional lives - their emotions may not be as complex as ours, and they don't think in the same way that we do, but I would argue that penguins (and other animals), have many more emotions than just fear. I've witnessed behaviors in penguins (and other animals) that would also indicate emotions such as anger, jealousy, nervousness, affection, and more.

I often compare penguins to cats - they appear to have similar temperaments and similar levels of intelligence. With both cats and tamed penguins (which know their names), if you call them and they feel like coming over to you, they will. And if they don't feel like coming over, they will snub you and walk or swim away. (And, as an aside, penguins - like cats - are capable of being trained. Although, having trained both using operant conditioning - which is based on positive reinforcement - I think cats can be trained to do tasks that are more complex than penguins are capable of.)

I hope this helps answer your questions!

Take care,

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Dyan deNapoli


I ONLY ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT PENGUINS. As a recognized penguin expert, I can authoritatively answer any questions about penguins - from biology, behavior, conservation, habitat or the impacts of global warming, to working in an aquarium setting and husbandry management etc. AGAIN, I ANSWER PENGUIN QUESTIONS ONLY - IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT OTHER ANIMALS, PLEASE ASK A DIFFERENT EXPERT. Thank you!


I was a Senior Penguin Aquarist at the New England Aquarium in Boston for nine years, where I co-managed a colony of seventy penguins. I have extensive experience hand-rearing penguin chicks, managing colony health, understanding penguin behavior, and educating the public about penguins. I've been the guest penguin expert on numerous television and radio shows in the US and abroad, have been the content reviewer for three books about penguins, and have spoken at national and international conferences. I have spoken at four TEDx conferences - my TEDx talk about the Treasure oil spill rescue is featured on the main TED website. It can been viewed at https://www.ted.com/talks/dyan_denapoli_the_great_penguin_rescue. In the summer of 2000, I worked as a rehabilitation manager during the rescue of 40,000 African penguins from an oil spill. I wrote an award-winning book about this event, THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE, which Simon & Schuster published in October of 2010. In 2006, I founded an educational company called THE PENGUIN LADY, which is devoted to raising awareness and funding to help protect threatened and endangered penguin species. I provide on-site programs about penguins for children and adults, and donate a portion of the proceeds from every appearance to penguin rescue groups.

National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), Massachusetts Marine Educators Association (MMEA), Association of Zoos & Aquariums, International Zoo Educators Association, Author's Guild, International Women's Writing Guild, North Shore Women in Business (NSWIB), North Shore Business Forum, Mount Ida Veterinary Technology Accreditation Committee, Mensa International

On October 26, 2010, Simon & Schuster's Free Press imprint published THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE, a book that I wrote about the remarkable rescue of 40,000 penguins from the Treasure oil spill in South Africa. I worked as a rehabilitation supervisor during this historic event. More than 12,500 volunteers labored for three grueling months, after which 95% of the penguins were successfully released back into the wild. THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE has won several literary awards, and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other stores and online retailers. I authored the Penguin chapter for Scholastic Publishing's New Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia (NBK) in 2008, which is also available online at Grolier. (Most libraries have free access to this database.) I wrote the feature cover story (about the Treasure oil spill rescue) for the January 2011 The Mensa Bulletin. A link to that article, title Rescued Treasure, is here: http://www.us.mensa.org/AML/assets/Publications/Bulletin/Samples/rescuedtreasure/index.html I've had several articles published online, as well as in Mused Literary Magazine. A paper that I wrote about the New England Aquarium's penguin outreach program was published in the AZA conference proceedings journal in 1998.

BS in Animal Science from Mount Ida College in 1996, AZA Conservation Education School - NC State University 1999, PADI Scuba certified in 1995

Awards and Honors
Distinguished Alumni Award from Mount Ida College in 2002 for outstanding contributions in the sciences - award given in recognition of work done as a rehabilitation manager during the rescue of 20,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Mount Ida College in 1996 - awarded for Exceptional Achievement in the Sciences at graduation ceremonies

Past/Present Clients
Numerous schools, colleges, libraries, museums, cruise ships, assisted living facilities, rotary clubs and more. I've been the onboard penguin expert/guest lecturer on nature cruises to the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica. I've also been the guest on numerous TV and radio programs, including CNN, BBC, CBC Radio-Canada, ABC Radio Australia. and Sierra Club Radio. If you wish to obtain specific names or locations, please contact me via e-mail or through my website at www.thepenguinlady.com

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