Animal altruism: Heroic penguin shields chicks from predator

by Dr. Eowyn


Today, the BBC is scheduled to broadcast an animal documentary, Spy in the Snow, narrated by David Tennant, on how dangerous life is for creatures in the Antarctic.

To promote it, BBC One put out a video clip showing a giant petrel preying on a group of Emperor penguin chicks.

Giant petrels are sea birds restricted to the Southern Hemisphere. They are very aggressive predators and scavengers, and are known by another common name, the stinker. Emperor penguins are the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and are found in Antarctica.

The chicks try to flee, but stumble.

The giant petrel got hold of one chick, grabbing it by the neck. The chick struggles and manages to get away.

The chicks then huddle together in a defensive circle. One of them bravely comes forward, standing to its full height, with outstretched arms to protect the others.

The giant petrel crouches and watches, biding its time.

Suddenly, from the side, out dashes a fearless Adélie penguin to the rescue.

Although the Adélie is shorter and smaller than the emperor penguin chicks, the Adélie — a different species from the emperor penguins — shields the chicks by putting himself between the chicks and the giant petrel.

The giant petrel gives up and flies away, while the chicks and their brave protector waddle to the sea.

How many humans are as brave and selfless as this Adélie penguin?


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