Penguin of the Year

Flip­pered fi­nal­ists face off

Hawke's Bay Today - - Front page -

The eyes of the on­line world are on the Na­tional Aquar­ium in Napier, as two pen­guins face off to be crowned penguin of the year.

The Na­tional Aquar­ium started run­ning a naughty and good penguin of the month in June 2017, and this year is run­ning the in­au­gu­ral Penguin of the Year. Pen­guins Mo and Timmy are the fi­nal­ists af­ter vot­ing closed at mid­night on Thurs­day.

Timmy was the orig­i­nal naughty penguin of the month, but penguin keeper Sakura Parker-Iida says he is a bit mis­un­der­stood.

“Ev­ery­one thinks he’s quite this bad boy, but per­son­ally I think he’s more, he just doesn’t know bet­ter,” Parker-Iida said.

“A lot of his steal­ing fish an­tics are just be­cause he is quite wob­bly on his feet be­cause of his spinal in­jury.”

Mo, on the other hand, is just plain naughty, and has won the ti­tle of naughty penguin of the month four times — more than any of the other pen­guins.

“He’s re­ally a piece of work, he is quite naughty, he’ll steal fish from other pen­guins, in­clud­ing his girl­friend. He’ll hap­pily tackle other birds to the ground, and steal fish off the sand, which no­body else is in­ter­ested in do­ing.

“And he’s not the best dad ei­ther, he’s got two girl­friends who kind of stay in the nest most of the time while he’s off steal­ing fish.”

Like all 12 pen­guins, Timmy and Mo were brought to the aquar­ium be­cause they were un­able to sur­vive in the wild. While the aquar­ium re­ha­bil­i­tates and re­leases pen­guins when pos­si­ble, it be­comes the per­ma­nent home for some.

Timmy was the vic­tim of a boat strike, and was un­able to walk, or wad­dle, when he ar­rived. Thanks to work with a chi­ro­prac­tor, he can now walk, but is a bit un­sta­ble.

“He’ll of­ten fall down to the sand,” Parker-Iida said.

Mo was an aban­doned chick. “His par­ents would have been scared away be­fore he was old enough to fledge and leave the nest. Be­cause of it they don’t ac­tu­ally learn how to penguin prop­erly.”

Peo­ple from 66 coun­tries voted for the two fi­nal­ists. The naughty and good penguin of the year was started as fun for the keep­ers and reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to the aquar­ium, but gen­er­ated global in­ter­est.

"He’s re­ally a piece of work, he is quite naughty, he’ll steal fish from other pen­guins, in­clud­ing his girl­friend." Sakura Parker-Iida

And Mo’s ri­val for the an­nual hon­our, Timmy.

PHO­TOS / FILE

Penguin of the Year pin-ups fi­nal­ist Mo.

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