Updated at: 06-06-2023 - By: Jane Brody

The Southern Hemisphere is home to polar zones where penguins spend the winter.

As a result, they are not likely to come across any large creatures, including humans.

Therefore, penguins in the wild are either very interested in people or completely uninterested.

However, penguins who have been raised with humans tend to be tame.

Regardless, a sizable percentage of the human population views penguins favorably.

However, have you ever questioned:

How Do Penguins View Humans?

Are Penguins Friendly

It appears they don’t give a hoot about the presence of humans.

Most penguins, you see, inhabit areas that are inaccessible to people.

Therefore, scientists are the only people wild penguins ever meet.

As a result, most wild penguins have never even seen a human, let alone interacted with one.

Penguins in man-made wildlife sanctuaries may soon have regular contact with humans.

When penguins become acclimated to us, they begin to treat us like friends or neighbors.

However, it is impossible for these penguins to adequately portray penguins in their native habitat.

Only by seeing penguins in their natural settings can one have an accurate understanding of the birds’ habits.

From the accounts of birdwatchers who have visited colonies of wild penguins in Antarctica and other parts of the world.

Experts have found that mature penguins rarely give human observers more than a cursory glance.

Penguins younger than seven months old may approach humans out of curiosity, but they will likely only do so in groups.

Some studies suggest that this action is conditioned.

How so?

Of course, most people don’t go to Antarctica to see the penguins there.

But on a regular basis, ornithologists go out on long-term excursions to visit and study these penguin colonies.

In such colonies, the majority of penguins have probably encountered a scientist at some point.

Younger penguins, who have not yet met any of the experts, are naturally inquisitive about them.


As far as adult penguins are concerned, a human scientist with its accompanying camera gear and suitcases is simply another weird regular visitor who doesn’t warrant much of their time.


Are Penguins Afraid Of Humans?

Are Penguins Friendly-2

Surprisingly, they aren’t.

When it comes to the animal realm, size does matter when it comes to establishing supremacy.

To the point where competing creatures would physically elongate themselves to look considerably bigger than they actually are.

Present-day humans are roughly 5.5 feet tall and weigh about 70 kilograms (kg).

Emperor Penguins, the largest species of penguin, can reach a height of 1.5 meters (about 4 feet) and a weight of 20–25 pounds (approximately 11–11 kilograms).

Blue Penguins, the smallest species of penguin, reach a maximum height of 1 foot and a weight of only 1.5 kilograms.

As a result of their height and mass, humans might easily be mistaken for dangerous by penguins.

Why Are Penguins Not Afraid Of Humans?

In this case, only a penguin would know for sure.

But the following explanations are put up by ornithologists to account for such actions:

1. Inability To Perceive Threat

Maybe penguins don’t have the intelligence to understand that being bigger than someone is a show of power.

When compared to their tiny size, penguins’ brains are very sophisticated.

Penguins have such advanced cognitive abilities that they can identify their own likeness in a mirror.

On top of that, penguins are known to avoid predatory huge marine animals.

So, it’s unlikely that penguins wouldn’t recognize us as a potentially dangerous species.

2. Conditioned Responses

About 60 million years ago, the earliest penguin fossils appeared.

These prehistoric birds were considerably bigger than modern penguins, reaching lengths of over 7 feet and weights of up to 101 kilograms.

Penguins like these clearly have nothing to worry about from our species.

No credible historical accounts feature human beings engaging in widespread penguin hunting and consumption.

Therefore, penguins learned from decades of experience that humans are nothing to be afraid of if they interacted with them at any point in evolutionary history.

That penguins don’t appear to care much when people return to their colonies lends credence to this hypothesis.

This does not clarify why penguin populations were mostly unaffected by the Great Auks’ demise.

Despite the fact that auks are related to penguins, they were frequently hunted and traded for their beauty.

For financial benefit, mankind eventually succeeded in wiping out the final surviving Auk pair.

However, penguins were the only animals that could be found thus far south.

3. Absence Of Land Predators

Polar bears and other cold-adapted mammal species are mostly a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon.

However, it’s the Southern Hemisphere where you’ll find penguins.

In most cases, penguins don’t have to worry about being eaten by land mammals.

Adult penguins are largely protected from raptors like skuas and petrels, but young penguins are a common target.

However, many marine predators, including as killer whales and leopard seals, actively seek out and kill penguins for food.

This means that penguins have a pretty secure environment on land.

Maybe penguins don’t consider people to be a threat because they’re too grounded.

4. Reliance On Society

Penguins, in contrast to corvids, do not organize their families in a strict hierarchy.

However, penguins frequently live in large communities that can number in the millions.

Members of a colony cluster together for support and protection.

For example, in the absence of a parent, young penguins would congregate in order to protect themselves from predators.

And adult penguins can go on coordinated forays into the water and ice.

If this is the case, then perhaps penguins do not fear people because they know they can always count on a large group of other penguins to protect them.

But if you’re curious about how penguins and people interact with one another, read on!

If so, you might be among the many penguin lovers who dream of bringing home a penguin of your own.

In that case, it’s natural that you’d wonder:

Do Penguins Bond With Humans?

Are Penguins Friendly-3

It happens occasionally.

But just because penguins aren’t terrified of you doesn’t mean they love you any less.

A dog or budgerigar is more likely to give you a cuddle than a penguin.

In addition, penguins are no longer a viable pet option for people.


Considering that global warming poses a serious threat to penguins.

Furthermore, anytime people interact with penguins, they always end up spreading diseases to them. As a result, most penguin programs prohibit any kind of interaction with or visits to penguin colonies.

Even if a penguin comes up to one of the researchers, they are not allowed to contact them unless there is a good reason to do so.

However, there are locations that do do permit penguin-human contact.

But only in accordance with stringent rules.

Of course, if you work at a zoo or a similar facility for animals, petting penguins can be a regular part of your job.

The main reason is because fish is regularly provided to penguins in captivity by hand by human workers.

That way, no penguin will ever go hungry or undernourished.

Therefore, it is possible for captive-bred penguins to develop attachments to the humans who feed them.

Penguins may develop a close relationship with humans, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily let themselves be cuddled by them.

But this kind of penguin won’t turn its nose up at people approaching.

In any case, have you ever considered what it’s like to be a penguin?

The penguins I’ve seen have been surprisingly sturdy for their feathery appearance.

In addition, it features soft, downy feathers that are perfectly aligned and just as beautiful as you’d expect.

A little softer than the ordinary neighborhood dog, but still rather sturdy.

“Cute and cuddly boys,” as Skipper would remark on Penguins of Madagascar.

Do Penguins Attack Humans?

Almost never.

As you can see, penguins often avoid pointless disputes.

Penguins are generally peaceful, even within their own colonies.

As a matter of fact, penguins don’t bother any other penguins.

But, just like other animals, penguins are very protective of their offspring.

They also place a high value on family time.

To the point that a mother penguin will steal another egg to replace her dead offspring.

Typically, penguins only get into fights during this season.

A penguin will attack if a person approaches its nest.


How will a Penguin Attack a Human?

Penguins have short, webbed feet and legs.

Penguins rarely have the foot strength to walk, let alone kick.

That also implies that a penguin can’t catch a human (see figure 1).

Therefore, the attack is highly unlikely to occur until a human approaches a penguin very closely.

A penguin’s flipper-like wings aren’t very strong for kicking, but they’re plenty of fun for slapping.

Penguins, moreover, have bills that may poke deep.

Although penguins don’t have teeth, their beaks can get up to 8 centimeters in length.

Since penguins, on average, may tower over human thighs in height.

What this indicates is..

A penguin will likely scratch a human leg. 

Penguin bites have rarely been recorded to cause serious injuries, such as lacerations, to the hands of wildlife professionals.

However, a penguin in the wild is not likely to engage in single-handed combat.

Or, a human might get beaten up by the entire colony if he irritates a penguin there.

Most penguins, though, would just try to drive a human away.

Some penguin species are known for being more combative than others.

Penguins of this type will even assault a camera if it is placed too close to their nest.

So, rather than holding a nesting wild penguin, I suggest you instead acquire a toy like Joey Tribbiani’s Hugsy.

Are Penguins Nice?

Gentile and sociable, penguins are.

They won’t randomly attack a person; they’ll only do so if they perceive the person to be a threat. Otherwise, penguins can be rather friendly. After all, penguins have been known to form bonds with people, so I have little doubt that they are generally pleasant creatures.

Wrapping Up 

Since penguins don’t face many predators on land, they are not very concerned about being around people or other land animals.

Most penguins don’t care if humans are around or not.

Reports have surfaced of penguins developing close relationships with people.

Only if he poses a danger to the penguin’s chicks will the adult penguin attack a human.

If you’re interested in penguins, here’s another piece you should read.

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