There are three species of penguins in the animated feature, "Happy Feet": the Emperor penguin, the Rockhopper penguin and the Adelie penguin. Since these species look very different, they are easily distinguished from one another, even in an animated film. Beyond their animation potential, these birds make for fascinating study.
The character of Mumble is an Emperor penguin. The largest species of penguin, Emperor penguins stand nearly four feet tall. Weighing in at around 90 pounds, the Emperor is aptly named. Their diet consists of crustaceans, fish and squids. Equipped with a large head, small wings and a short tail, these birds also display a soft yellow coloration on the head and upper portion of the breast.
The character of Lovelace in "Happy Feet" is a Rockhopper penguin. Rockhopper penguins earned their name from their habit of jumping from rock to rock. Distinguished by an outrageous black and yellow feathered crest, these penguins are tiny, yet aggressive. Weighing in at only 6 pounds and standing at only 22 inches, these birds sometimes fall prey to leopard seals, fur seals or blue sharks.
The tiny Adelie penguin was represented in the movie "Happy Feet" by the characters of Ramon and his friends. This species of penguin is roughly half the size of the Emperor penguin. Weighing in at 9 pounds or less and standing at around 28 inches tall, these birds have stiff tails and long tail feathers. Despite their size, these birds are hardy swimmers. Traveling on land is often accomplished by sliding downhill on their small bellies.
The Adelie penguin breeds and builds its nest on rocky Antarctic beaches. The Emperor penguin breeds on Antarctic sea ice when winter begins. The female Emperor penguin's role is to lay one egg. That egg is incubated for two months by the male mate. During this time, the female heads out to sea to feed. Rockhopper penguins breed on south Atlantic islands, the south Indian Ocean and in Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands.
Scientist believe that they can learn much from the study of Emperor penguins. The ability of these birds to dive deeply into frozen Antarctic waters is not understood. Human beings would be crushed by the pressure experienced during these deep dives, yet Emperor penguins regularly survive such pressures. The 1911 book, "The Worst Journey in the World" tells the story of three British explorers and their expedition to learn more about the Emperor penguin.