Boulders Beach in Simonstown is home to some 2500 penguins, these penguins are known as jackass penguins because of the braying sounds they make. They look so awkward the way they waddle and hop around but you will be amazed at how they can jump, they have even been known to climb fences that were erected to keep them out of private gardens.
Boulders Beach is probably one of the only places in the world where you can swim with penguins. These penguins have become quite habituated to people, just a word of warning though they can inflict a really nasty bite so best not to get too close to them.
Jackass penguins usually start breeding at about four years old, they keep the same partner for many years and return to the same nests each breeding season. Nests are usually burrowed into the ground or under the undergrowth to protect them from the sun. Normally penguins produce between two or three eggs per season. Parents share the nesting duties with one staying on the nest whilst the other goes out in search of food. The partner left on the nest will stay without food or drink for about two and a half days until the partner returns. Chicks are closely watched over by the parents until they are two months or a little older if they have not had sufficient food.
The penguin chick are born with fluffy grey feathers which they slowly lose as they get older until they get their adult black and white coat. There is a calendar of activity for the Jackass Penguins at boulders that comprises as follows:
January – Juveniles are moulting and adults are feeding up for the breeding season
February to August – The breeding season
September to October – The penguins are feeding up for moulting
November to December – the moulting season
Boulders beach is within easy reach of Cape Town being a 45 minute drive, they have walkways and viewing decks where the penguins can be seen swimming and nesting, it is amazing to see them with their chicks during the breeding season. We highly recommend a visit to Boulders Beach to observe these funny little creatures.