I can't stop thinking about this bizarre claim by Boris Johnson that two thirds of the world's penguins are British. Other than the fact that ascribing a nationality to a penguin is a bit odd, I'm also convinced there's no way that it's by any means true.
(Hear me out - am no penguin expert but here's my back-of-an-envelope calculations. What better way to spend your lunch hour?)
All penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, except those that live in zoos. I'm presuming that by 'British', Boris is referring to penguins that live in one of the British Overseas Territories.
Excluding the British Antarctic Territory (which I'll come to in a moment), the British Overseas Territories that have penguins are the South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney, the Falklands, and St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
Between them, they certainly have a lot of penguins - slightly over ten million, as far as I can tell.
But the total global population of penguins is approximately 40 million - so in order for two thirds of the world's penguins to be British, another 16 million would need to live in the British Antarctic Territory.
Figures on the number of penguins in the Antarctic vary wildly from 12 million to 20 million, which might depend somewhat on what time of the year it is.
But the British Antarctic Territory makes up only 10% of the area of Antarctica, and penguins appear to be relatively equally distributed across the entire Antarctic coastline.
IDK what the answer is, by the way, but it seems a bit of a stretch to claim 2/3 of the world's penguins unless Boris is planning on conquering the whole of Antarctica any time soon.
If you are a penguin expert I genuinely would like to hear from you.
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