The cost of penguins is extremely expensive.
A single penguin weighing 2,000kg, can cost more than $US300,000.
The cost per pound is the same as a cow, and can easily be a third the price of beef.
“Penguins are extremely valuable in terms of tourism, breeding, and as an ornamental species,” says Professor Andrew Geddes, from the Australian National University’s School of Marine and Antarctic Science.
“In terms of a tourist industry, you’re talking tens of millions of dollars annually.”
It is not only the cost that has driven demand for penguins, it is also the sheer size that has made them a target.
The average penguin weighs in at almost 4,000g, and is the largest animal on the planet.
While they may be small, they can reach lengths of up to 100 metres, making them incredibly durable.
The largest penguin ever recorded, the South African black and white, weighed in at 7,973kg.
That’s nearly 50 per cent more than a modern-day horse.
“We think they are the biggest mammals on the Earth,” Professor Gedds says.
While the cost is a barrier to the purchase of penguin eggs and chicks, the bigger the penguin the more likely they are to be sold. “
The biggest one we’ve ever seen was 8,000 tonnes and we’ve got a record of them in the freezer, so it’s pretty amazing.”
While the cost is a barrier to the purchase of penguin eggs and chicks, the bigger the penguin the more likely they are to be sold.
“If you want to go out and buy a penguins for a wedding, for example, you can find a mate in a mall or at a farm,” he says.
There are several ways to get your hands on penguins.
The best way to get a taste of the big blue is to fly them around in an open-air arena, which is popular in the US.
They are also available to buy from zoo-goers.
“There’s a few species that you can actually buy from zoos, for instance, or people in the public,” he explains.
“You can get the white-footed pygmy, the black-footed, the brown-footed.
The black-backed pygmys are the big ones.”
While you can also get them for a good price, penguins are not typically considered a luxury item.
They can be found in parks and beaches around the world.
They also make an excellent gift.
They’re a good source of protein and calcium.
And if you’re looking to add to your lifestyle, they’re great pets.
The Australian Antarctic Division has a penguinian breeding program.
“It’s a bit of a labour of love,” says Colleen O’Neill, head of breeding programs for the Division.
“With every year that we have a breeding program we get to see more and more penguins come in.”
She says the program has been a huge success, and the numbers have increased over the years.
“When we do get a breeding, it’s really an absolute joy for us, it gives us so much joy,” she says.