What’s It Like To Hug A Penguin? What Do Penguins Feel Like?

Have you ever seen a penguin and wondered what it is like to hug them? Are they soft? Feathery? Smooth?

Here’s your answer: Penguins are strong birds, and hugging them feels like cuddling a dense bag of sand. Their bodies are slippery, so if you ever get to hold a penguin, it will most probably wiggle its way out of your arms. If you rub your hand down a penguin’s body, you will find it to be smooth and sleek.

However, if you ever get to touch a baby penguin, you will feel them be soft and furry.

Penguins are adorable animals, and it is natural that people who love penguins also have a strong desire to hug them.

But the real question here is:

Should you be hugging a penguin? Or not?

Penguins are anti-social animals, which means getting too friendly with a penguin is not a very good idea. They don’t like to be touched or hugged for that matter and may bite you if threatened.


Penguins have sharp beaks that feel more like clamps. If you ever get bitten by a penguin, you will probably bleed, and it will hurt a whole lot.

Out of all the 17 penguin species, the crested penguins like the rockhoppers are the most aggressive. They are known to bite when they sense fear from approaching humans. Emperor penguins are known to be the calmest and easy-going. They only react aggressively when you threaten their chicks. Otherwise, all is good!

Look at this adorable video of a woman getting emotional after getting some cozy hugs from a penguin:

While hugging a penguin may seem cute and fun, one thing to remember when interacting with a penguin is that:

Penguins have powerful flippers  

Their flippers are perfectly capable of breaking a leg or, at the least, fracturing a bone. If you get too close to a penguin and it decides to smack you with an aggressive flipper, you are in for a surprise.


It is safe to say that if you ever plan to hug a penguin, go somewhere they are trained to cuddle. Because a wild penguin will probably take one of your eyes in return for a hug!

Fun fact: Yellow-eyed penguins (or Hoiho) are endangered penguins. You can find them in New Zealand, and their population is believed to be around 4000.

See also  What do Penguins Eat 

So, now you wonder:

Do Penguins hate human touch?

Umm, no. Saying that penguins hate human touch would be an exaggeration. Penguins don’t hate social interactions. But they don’t like them a lot either.

Some species of wild penguins like the Tawaki prefer living in isolated lands. This is the reason why they are not used to human interactions. They would either be curious or see you as a potential threat.


You need to make sure you pick on cues whether a penguin is getting agitated or is comfortable with your presence and go along with it.

You should only try and cuddle a penguin when they have gotten comfortable around you.


If you are wondering what one should do to make a penguin comfortable, read ahead!

How to make a penguin comfortable enough to cuddle you?

Penguins are not tricky animals. You just need to make sure not to push the wrong buttons, and you are good to go.

For visitors in Antarctica, penguins are the number one attraction. However, sightseers are advised to stay five meters away when viewing penguins.

If you ever plan to get interactive with a penguin, just keep in mind these following steps:

  • Don’t make loud noises since that might make the penguins nervous. Even though the penguins are way too loud themselves, loud noises or sounds may be viewed as an intrusion.
  • Penguins are often smelly, so take some time and get used to the penguin poop smell.
  • Make slow movements. Sudden and fast changes may threaten the penguins.
  • Stay low when interacting with a penguin or, more preferably, sit down.
  • Be patient. A penguin may take a little while before getting comfortable around you.
  • Keep your cameras away and focus on interacting with the penguin.

See this video of a child’s wish of hugging a penguin granted at a resort:

So, if you keep all things in check:

Can you befriend a penguin?

Yes, you can. Penguins don’t hate humans. They just don’t know them well.

Since the majority of a penguin’s predators are underwater, they would most probably not view humans as a threat. But conditions apply. You need to keep a few of the points mentioned above in mind to make sure a penguin does not view you as dangerous.

See also  Penguin Spirit Animal Symbolism & Meaning 

Since penguins are not aware of land predators, you have high chances of striking a cordial and friendly relationship with a penguin. You will just need to be a little careful in the start, and if all goes well, you may quickly get acquainted with a penguin.

Fun fact: Did you know that ‘Gentoo’ penguins build their nests with pebbles? If not, then you know now!

Related: Penguin as Pet

But, wait, another crucial question to be asked here is:

Are you allowed to hold a penguin?

An international agreement was signed in 1957 among all the participating countries in Antarctica that penguins would not be harassed, disturbed, or preyed upon in their natural habitat.

It means if you happen to land in Antarctica, you most probably would not be allowed by your tour guide to get too close to the penguins or touch them.

It is because in case you scare a penguin away, you may end up facing a charge. Since penguins are reactive to unusual sounds or activities, either they may attack you or flee away, leaving the chicks behind.


Your best bet to cuddle a penguin is at a penguin resort under proper professional supervision.

Do you want to know?

What are the best places to go hug a penguin?

Penguins that are kept under supervision and are trained for human interaction are the safest option for a close encounter with a penguin. Several resorts in various locations offer this activity.

One of the most obvious ones is Ski Dubai. It is a skiing enclosure that hosts several different attractions, including the penguins, in Dubai. You can pet and cuddle the penguins easily since they are way too comfortable around humans.

One other spot for penguin interaction is the Diamond Island Resort in Australia. It has penguins waddling around in the resort, which makes it super exciting. You can just walk over to your door and see penguins shuffle around the garden.

If you live in the US, then Long Island Aquarium is your place to go! It offers a variety of animal attractions with penguin topping the list. They provide long interactive sessions of encounters with African penguins kept and trained inside the aquarium.


The Sea World resort in the US is a great place to visit if you wish to indulge in a friendly, up-close encounter with penguins.

So what do you plan now? Do you still wish to hug a penguin? Leave your comments below and let me know your thoughts!

Photo of author

Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

Leave a Comment