Zoo #27 – Penguin

Dinner-suited penguins come
In many shapes and sizes.
Are they birds, or are they fish,
Or Masters of Disguises?

A slip back into the original short, sweet and silly plan of nonsense rhymes.  I think I read somewhere – that normally means I have (unwittingly) made it up – that penguins are the world’s favourite creature, above the giant panda, the sloth and the koala.  I guess it is because, even when faced with issues of life and death (whenever they are visible to us, e.g. on land) they are slightly comic.  The way that they move just makes us smile.  Who doesn’t find it endearing?  But also, I think, we all see something incredibly inspiring about penguins.  Emperor Penguin females, for instance, lay their eggs and then go off to gather the food, without which the babies would not survive.  Dad, meanwhile, gives up his entire existence to the protection of his egg in order that it might hatch and survive until the mother’s return.  During this time every member of the raft (I just had to look that up) is totally reliant upon every other member for body heat and protection from the bitter wind and cold.  Their stoicism is incredibly noble (and gives rise to what is actually a much better collective noun for penguins – the huddle).  I think, perhaps, we see in penguin society an aspiration for the human race: not the eating of regurgitated raw fish, of course, nor the fact that between them they do not appear to have sufficient sense to come in out of the cold, but the recognition that in order to thrive they all rely on one another; that every individual has a role to play; that they all need to protect and to be protected.  A lesson for humankind…

Well that, of course, and the fact that they all look like Charlie Chaplin in a tuxedo…

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