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Why are penguins called penguins?

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What's black and white and named after another species of bird? A penguin!

It's believed that when explorers first saw penguins, they reminded them of another bird called the great auk, "Pinguinus impennis" in Latin. Both species were black and white, and also flightless, but they were not related. They wouldn't have even lived in the same area! The great auk, now extinct, lived in the north Atlantic and off the coast of Newfoundland. Nowadays, the only penguins you can find in Canada live in zoos and aquariums. If you want to see penguins in the wild, you would need to travel to places in the Southern Hemisphere such as Antarctica, South Africa, Chile, Peru, the Galápagos Islands, Australia and New Zealand.

Kids have also wondered about why penguins don't fly. As for the word "penguin," it may have come from the Welsh words pen gwyn meaning "white head." That's one way to describe the appearance of some of these amazing birds! Imagine you're seeing a penguin for the first time. What would you name it?

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