Can You Keep Penguins as a Pet?

Can You Keep Penguins as a Pet

Last Updated on January 14, 2024 by Fumipets

Can You Keep Penguins as a Pet?


Penguins, with their distinctive waddle and dapper tuxedo-like appearance, have charmed people worldwide through documentaries and wildlife encounters. Their captivating antics and adorable demeanor might leave you wondering, “Can you keep penguins as a pet?”

While the idea of having a penguin as a companion may seem tempting, the reality of penguin ownership raises several ethical, logistical, and legal questions. In this article, we explore the feasibility and challenges of keeping penguins as pets.

Penguins as Pet

Penguins are among the world’s prettiest creatures, let’s face it. Nobody misses the zoo’s penguin exhibit. It’s often packed tighter than practically any other exhibit! However, cute pets aren’t necessarily the best pets.

Penguins could rank among the worst pets ever in this situation. This is caused by a number of things, such as the absurd illegality of having a penguin, exorbitant care requirements, enormous appetites, and social demands necessitating a pack of 20 or more birds. We’re sorry if this has killed your dreams of owning a pet penguin, but if you’d want to know why this isn’t feasible or permitted, read on.

Exotic Animals

Animals classified as exotic include penguins. Now, it doesn’t always mean that owning them is prohibited. In the United States, it is entirely lawful to keep a variety of exotic animals as pets. Of course, for some of these creatures you’ll need permissions and documentation that you can provide suitable conditions for them. Furthermore, different states have different regulations governing the buying, owning, and selling of exotic animals.

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Chimpanzees and wallabies are some more exotic species that are permitted under certain conditions. Even though hedgehogs and bearded dragons are regarded as unusual creatures, you are still permitted to own them.

Penguins are not one of these species, however. Not just in the US, but across the whole globe, penguin restrictions are far tougher than those governing other exotic species. It should be clear that keeping penguins as pets is prohibited in the United States.

Penguin Protection

The Antarctic Treaty, which regulates how Antarctica is utilized, includes the United States and a large number of other nations. The Protocol on Environmental Protection is a section of the treaty. Penguin conservation guidelines are outlined in this section of the Antarctic Treaty.

For many years, penguins have been targeted for hunting. They were slaughtered for their meat, oil, and fat, which is an excellent fuel source. Penguins are more impacted by climate change than many other animals are. Due to these reasons, the Antarctic Treaty forbids the ownership and trading of these birds.

Five Things You Must Know About Keeping Penguins as Pets

After reading these five facts regarding keeping penguins as pets, you may reconsider how awesome it would be to have one as a pet.

1. Penguin Trade is Highly Regulated

The Antarctic Treaty has made the trading of penguins globally illegal. This is an international agreement that includes more than simply the United States of America. If you were to get your hands on a penguin, which would be almost impossible anyhow, you’ll be in some serious trouble.

2. Many Penguins are Endangered

11 of the 18 species of penguins are listed as endangered. As you are probably aware, it is a serious crime to kill, own, capture, or have any other interaction with an endangered animal. If caught, you might lose your freedom immediately.

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3. Penguins are Pack Animals

Even if you could, keeping penguins as pets would be very challenging for a variety of reasons. For the sake of their social and mental wellbeing, these birds must be housed in groups of at least 20 since they are pack animals. A single penguin could fit in your room, but if you maintain 20, you’ll need an Olympic-sized pool for them to swim in.

4. Most Penguins Require Excessive Care

The space requirements for caring for 20 or more birds do not make raising penguins very feasible. Furthermore, you must maintain a temperature of 30 to 40 degrees in their region. That cooling cost is going to be astronomical! And your pool will need an industrial cleaning system, which is far more advanced than what is typically required for a household swimming pool.

5. They Eat Up to 500 Pounds of Fish Each Year

We haven’t even touched on penguins’ ravenous appetites, as if taking care of them wasn’t challenging enough. Each year, the 20 penguins will consume five tons of fish. Can you really catch so many fish every year? Obviously not! Can you also image the cost of buying that many fish? Remember the enormous mess that will be left behind—a foul mess that you’ll have to clean up every day!


Penguins are endearing and fascinating animals. They are a lot of fun to watch, and you immediately want to pick them up. However, you need to limit your watching of these birds to zoos and nature films. The truth is that it’s impossible to maintain penguins as pets, and it’s definitely illegal. You won’t be keeping a penguin as a pet any time soon, so put on your happy boots and get your penguin dose elsewhere.

Questions & Answers


Is It Legal to Keep Penguins as Pets?

Keeping penguins as pets is not only uncommon but also highly regulated and, in many cases, illegal. Penguins are protected under various international and national laws, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. These laws aim to safeguard penguins and other wildlife, making it illegal for private individuals to own them without proper permits and licenses.

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What Are the Ethical Considerations of Keeping Penguins as Pets?

Ethical concerns surrounding penguin ownership are significant. Penguins are wild animals with complex physical and social needs. Captivity can cause stress, behavioral issues, and health problems for these birds. Penguins require specific habitats, such as cold and icy environments or natural coastal areas, which are challenging to replicate in a home setting. Keeping penguins as pets can compromise their welfare and natural behaviors.


What Is the Cost of Maintaining Penguins in Captivity?

Even if it were legal and ethical to keep penguins as pets, the cost of their care would be prohibitively high for most individuals. Penguins have specialized dietary needs, requiring a steady supply of fresh fish, and maintaining their habitat with temperature control and water quality management can be costly. Professional facilities, such as accredited zoos and aquariums, invest significant resources to provide appropriate care for penguins.


Are There Alternatives to Keeping Penguins as Pets?

Instead of keeping penguins as pets, individuals passionate about these fascinating birds can support conservation efforts and educational programs. Many accredited zoos and aquariums provide opportunities for visitors to learn about penguins and contribute to their preservation. Additionally, joining local wildlife organizations or participating in penguin-themed events can help raise awareness and support penguin conservation.


How Can I Learn More About Penguins Without Keeping Them as Pets?

Learning about penguins can be an exciting and educational experience without the need to own them. Consider visiting reputable zoos, aquariums, or wildlife sanctuaries that offer penguin exhibits and educational programs. You can also explore documentaries, books, and online resources dedicated to penguin conservation and natural history. Supporting organizations that work to protect penguins and their habitats is another meaningful way to contribute to their well-being.




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