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How big are an Emperor Penguin’s feet ?

So, how big are an Emperor Penguin’s feet ?

“At the Museum we are used to being asked strange questions” says Josh Godfrey, Learning & Participation Manager . “But we don’t mind because that’s what museums are for”. The photo shows Josh working out the answer this week to a bizarre – and very long distance – question.

penguin feet

Last week a query was forwarded to Selborne from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge. BAS is the world’s leading Antarctic scientific research centre, and has close links with the Gilbert White & The Oates Collections. The Museum has one of Britain’s finest collections of Antarctic artefacts – from the Scott Expedition 1911-13.

The question came from Rebecca Cole, a first grade teacher at a primary school in Windham, Maine, USA. One of her pupils is doing a project on penguins and wanted to know “how big are an Emperor Penguin’s feet ? ”. They had not managed to find an answer to this original question in the US and had been directed to BAS in Cambridge. BAS didn’t know either – and suggested asking the museum in Selborne, as BAS had provided the Museum with an Emperor Penguin – named ‘Aurora’- for display a few years ago. One BAS staffer helpfully suggested “taking the penguin to a Clarke’s shoe shop”.

As it happened, our penguin’s box was due to be opened for cleaning and that provided the opportunity for measurement. “The answer is the feet are 4.13inches long (10.5cm) and 2.75” (7cm) wide” said Josh. “But it is worth remembering our sample is a young adult, not fully grown – she’s 30.52” (77.5cm) high, and adults can grow to around four feet.”

Rebecca’s reaction “This is awesome!”