It is estimated the wild population of Humboldt penguins is around 3k - 12k breeding pairs worldwide.
Like all penguins, the Humboldt penguin is a flightless marine bird, superbly adapted to its environment. Fossil records suggest that penguins once could fly but gave it up for life in the sea about 60 to 70 million years ago.
Their wings have evolved into narrow bony flippers, which make them extremely maneuverable and fast swimmers. Early explorers thought penguins were fish, not fowl, because they are so superbly adapted to life in water.
The Humboldt penguin nests on islands or rocky stretches of mainland coast and feeds on fish and squid in near-shore waters. The Humboldt breeds year round in small colonies. Humboldts dig underground burrows to protect themselves, their eggs, and chicks from the hot sun and predators.
Human exploitation is the primary reason Huboldt penguins are endangered.
The decline of the Humboldt penguin began in the mid-19th century when the intensive activity of guano collectors disturbed and damaged nesting areas. Guano, the excrement of animals such as birds and bats, is much sought after for fertilizer.
Local protections for individual species and their habitats vary by country, but the birds are still killed and used for fishing bait or eaten.