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Penguin Town on Netflix — our guide on what to enjoy in this cute documentary series

Netflix nature: Penguin Town.
Netflix nature: Penguin Town. (Image credit: Netflix)

Not all penguins like the cold! Penguin Town, a hilarious and insightful Netflix series, follows an the extraordinary colony of African Penguins as they descend on the balmy seaside resort of Simon’s Town in South Africa in order to nest. 

Over one summer season, they raise their young, while also mingling with beach goers, holding up traffic, and tripping over buckets and spades!

"The takeover begins every November as penguins arrive in waves," explains Patton Oswalt, from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fame, who narrates. "Numbers are declining, though, and they have six months to complete their most important mission —choose a partner, stake a claim to some territory and make more penguins."

Here’s our guide to the colourful series of Penguin Town on Netflix and its adorable stars…

Penguin Town on Netflix release date

Netflix series Penguin Town begins on Netflix on Wednesday June 16 when all eight of the 25-minute episodes are available to watch.

Penguin Town stars — The Bougainvilleas

This perfect pair are around 12 years old, middle aged for penguins, and they’ve been together most of their lives, even raising 12 chicks in Simon’s Town under the same bush.

"They’re the poster penguins for monogamy," says Patton. "They know how to build the colony better than anyone and they’ve learned a secret that in Simon’s Town the closer to humans, the safer the nest, because humans scare predators away. Their bush is one of the coolest spots in the neighbourhood, which is crucial in the African heat."

The Bougainvilleas are also filmed waddling down to the ocean in order to fish, which is crucial because laying eggs and raising chicks takes a lot of energy.

"The penguins goal is to get as fat as they can as fast as they can," says Patton. "They may be awkward on land but out in the ocean they’re sleek, sophisticated hunters, and they’ll swim ten miles on an average day in search of their favourite food of sardines."

Penguin Town stars — Mr and Mrs Culvert

Newlyweds the Culverts have only just got together this year and are inexperienced when it comes to finding the perfect nest, but there’s no time to waste...

"More than a thousand penguin couples settle in Simon’s Town each mating season and competition for the perfect place gets ugly — almost no spot is off limits," says Patton. 

"So there’s no time for a honeymoon for this pair because they need to find a nest fast. Picking a safe spot to lay eggs will determine their success as parents, but as first timers they don’t have a clue!"

On the road in Penguin Town.

On the road in Penguin Town. (Image credit: Netflix)

Meet Junior the misfit

Junior has just survived more than a year alone at sea, but half of all penguin youngsters don’t reach adulthood. Some are vulnerable to attack from Cape Fur seals, which kill 150 penguins every year in Simon’s Town.

"Junior’s first order of business is he has to moult," says Patton. "Every year penguins replace their old feathers with a brand new waterproof coat, which is an arduous three week fast that burns through half their bodyweight. 

"It’s Junior’s first adult moult where he finally trades his juvenile brown for the signature black and white. But his struggles at sea have left him weak and skinny. He’s lost a dangerous amount of weight and if his fat reserves run out he won’t survive the summer."

Who is narrator Patton Oswalt?

Penguin Town narrator Patton Oswalt.

Penguin Town narrator Patton Oswalt. (Image credit: Getty)

American stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt starred as Spence Olchin in the C4 sitcom The King of Queens (1998–2007) and guest starred as Eric Koenig on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014–2020).

After making his debut in Seinfeld, Patton has gone on to star in Parks and RecreationTwo and a Half MenWill & GraceVeep and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He narrates the sitcom The Goldbergs and voiced Remy in the 2007 film Ratatouille.

Penguin Town — all about African penguins

African penguins, also called jackass penguins because of their donkey-like bray, are found in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Gabon and Mozambique, and have bare skin on their legs and above their eyes to keep them cool. The flightless birds are believed to be one of the first penguins discovered by humans. But sadly they’re also endangered, with numbers declining by 60 percent in the last 28 years, thanks to over-fishing, habitat loss and coastal development.