Within a breeding colony, movements of penguins to and from territories can be associated with high energetic costs and risks of injury induced by the high aggressiveness of territorial breeders. Here, we tested whether the presence of sleeping king penguins (namely non-aggressive birds) could influence the trajectory of walking conspecifics. Also, we determined how an aggressive response from the sleeping individual's neighbours could affect the trajectory adopted by a travelling bird. We observed 150 sleeping king penguins on Possession Island (Crozet Archipelago) during the breeding season and determined whether or not travelling birds walk preferentially beside sleeping individuals. Moving penguins not attacked by territorial birds directly surrounding the sleeping individual walked preferentially beside it in 80.3% of the observations. However, birds attacked by the sleeping individual's neighbours walked beside the sleeping bird in only 27.9% of the cases. Whether the sleeping individual's neighbours were directly facing the intruder or not did not affect the probability of the intruder being attacked. Hence, travelling penguins actively chose to walk beside a sleeping individual when not attacked by the latter's neighbours. This striking tropism could represent an adapted motivated behaviour, reducing energetic costs and risks of injury associated with fighting.