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The Colony

Far in the southern hemisphere lives a species that has chosen one of the harshest environments on earth as their habitat. Unlike most animals, Emperor Penguins start breeding just before the dark Antarctic winter. It may seem strange, but this breeding schedule is timed perfectly, allowing young penguins to reach maturity at the height of the summer food supply. Emperor Penguins are fairly large, and are thus able to survive extremely cold temperatures. They stay warm in harsh weather by grouping to withstand the wind, protecting the young penguins during their molting stage.  This clever strategy has worked well. But in the last 50 years, significant warming has occurred over most of Antarctica. Here, the process is five times faster than the world average. It has destroyed nesting sites, reduced sources of food, and increased snowstorm intensity during winter. The species is endangered, and if nothing changes, our generation may see them disappear completely.

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