Volume 46, No. 1

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A three-legged African Penguin Spheniscus demersus


1Marine Apex Predator Research Unit, Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, Nelson Mandela University, Summerstrand 6031, Port Elizabeth, South Africa (
2DST-NRF Centre of Excellence at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela University, Summerstrand 6031, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
3Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Table View 7441, Cape Town, South Africa


VANSTREELS, R.E.T., PARSONS, N.J., & PISTORIUS, P.A. 2018. A three-legged African Penguin Spheniscus demersus. Marine Ornithology 46: 23 - 26

Received 31 October 2017, accepted 16 November 2017

Date Published: 2018/4/15
Date Online: 2018/2/16
Key words: African penguin, deformity, malformation, South Africa, Southern Hemisphere, supernumerary limb


We report the case of an adult African Penguin Spheniscus demersus with a supernumerary hindlimb. It was located between the left foot and the tail, and the penguin was able to move this third leg and foot as a response to being handled. However, the breadth of movement was very limited, and the leg was not functional. The bird had fully developed ovaries and was in good body condition, indicating the additional limb did not hinder survival to sexual maturity.


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