Archive for April, 2010

Donald’s Penguin

April 28, 2010

Donald’s Penguin  taken from

After the very different Mickey Mouse short, The Pointer, today’s subject seems like a return to form. After all, like many of the 1939 shorts, it’s a Donald Duck short, and it follows a familiar formula. Donald’s Penguin features Donald getting yet another strange person/animal sent to him, and hilarity ensues.

As you might imagine, in this case it’s a penguin that Donald receives, this time from “Admiral Byrd,” who is stationed in the Arctic. I could not find any reference to Admiral Byrd as a continuing character in the Donald mythos, but again, it’s an example of Donald building a back story and history with other duck/bird characters.

Also interesting is that the package is addressed to Donald in Hollywood, California. Just like Mickey, Donald has progressed from the farm animal that he was in The Wise Little Hen, to a suburban home owner. Not only that, but the idea of Donald living in Hollywood implies that he is a celebrity, and that the cartoon world is aware of it. It’s all very through the looking glass stuff, but interesting nonetheless.

Where this short takes a little different turn is when Donald introduces the penguin to his pet fish. It’s here that there is a darker turn to the proceedings, as the penguin decides that it’s time to eat the fish. There is a dance that goes on between Donald and the penguin as to whether or not he actually is going to eat them.

First, Donald accuses the penguin of eating the fish, even spanking the poor bird. But it turns out that he didn’t do it, and Donald is left in the embarrassing position of having punished him for no good reason. Any parent should be able to relate to that moment in the short.

Then, things turn again, as the penguin actually does eat the fish. It’s such a strange turn of events, that I didn’t expect it. You think about Disney shorts and don’t expect there to be such issues as life and death, but this one deals with it.

Donald, not to be outdone, pulls a gun on the penguin! Ultimately, he can’t shoot him, which is good, but ends up dropping the gun and nearly hitting the poor little guy anyway. The short ends with Donald and the penguin making up, but it left my head swirling.

We’ve seen this formula before, obviously, with the kangaroo, Donald’s nephews and even his Cousin Gus. But this time, rather than harmless pranks, the penguin is dealing with eating Donald’s fish, which is a natural thing to do, but still deals with life and death in a way we haven’t seen before. Donald’s reaction is to escalate the conflict with the gun, which is logical, but not all that funny.

This short wasn’t so much funny as it was mesmerizing. It was very interesting to see Donald’s reactions, especially when he was counting the fish as they kept disappearing. But the final moments of Donald pointing the gun at the penguin and the “death” of the fish were just so compelling, for a bunch of reasons. This is a must watch just for that last few minutes.

Does Nintendo Have Penguins In Their Future?

April 28, 2010

A recently filed trademark over in Japan for “Penguin Life” suggests Nintendo might be dabbling in a little penguin love.
Your favorite Antarctic birds might be hitting the big, or small, screen near you soon with Nintendo registering Penguin Seikatsu, which according to Siliconera translates to “Penguin Life”.  So, we might be seeing a group of gangster waddling birds brandishing swords, guns and mugging humans in the near future.

Penguin Love Triangle in S.F. Zoo Waddles On

April 27, 2010

A penguin at the San Francisco Zoo won’t be wearing a wedding tuxedo anytime soon — he’s still looking for his true love.

It may have been International Penguin Day for humans, but for Pepper, a single and sad Magellanic Penguin at the San Francisco Zoo hasn’t been in the holiday spirit lately and he has not found did love this breeding season.

Since being dumped last year  by his long-term, same-sex partner Harry — for of all things a girl penguin named Linda, Pepper has simply not been himself.

To make matters more dramatic this year, zookeepers are now seeing signs of tension between Pepper and the now coupled off Harry and Linda, and  they’re  worried that Pepper has been keeping to much by himself instead of making friends like the other single penguins.

Pepper and Harry and been together since adolescence and raised an abandoned egg together. But now, Harry and Linda are incubating an egg, leaving Pepper out  (as they say in the world of penguin love) in the cold.

Harry (left) and Linda waddling and frolicing at the S.F. Zoo.

Monsieur Pingouin

April 25, 2010

It’s appropriate that with today being International Penguin Day  that I  received an e-mail from Monsieur Pingouin to tell me he’ll be visiting N.Y. this Summer and that he wanted to visit Penguin Place.  Sadly, I had to inform him that we moved last June to Northampton, Mass and that if he wants to waddle over to Penguin Place he’ll have to aim about 150 north on NYC.   I’ve yet to here back from him, but in the meantime prepare to be very amused with this must see video of Monsieur Pingouin in his Belgian Igloo, and Happy Penguin Day everyone.

Pebbles Are A Penguins Best Friend

April 23, 2010

The famous penguin enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo is a hive of activity at the moment as mating season for the Gentoo penguin has begun. There are three different species of penguin on display at the zoo. Penguin keeper Lesley Garland definitely has her hands full with her feathered friends.

Lesley said: “We’ve got three species of penguins here the tallest and the most colourful ones are our King penguins, they’ve got the lovely orange patches on either side of their heads. The main nesting site is the Gentoo penguins they have a little white band that runs across the top of their heads from eye to eye and the smallest penguins we have are our Rockhoppers and they have the lovely yellow crest on the top of their head.”

The popular penguin parade features all three penguin species and is enjoyed by visitors of all ages. It’s the first zoo in the world to exhibit the king penguins, which is why the king penguin is on the zoo logo, and they are always very popular with the public particularly when they come out on parade. Funnily enough, the parade was actually started by mistake in 1951 when the penguins went for a walk then returned to their enclosure after a gate was left open.

Pebbles are a penguin’s best friend at Edinburgh Zoo

The Gentoo breeding season is the busiest time for the penguin keepers and it is definitely their favourite time of year when they get the chance to see the penguins busy working to welcome their new chicks. Now the public can see the special event too as the zoo have installed a webcam into the nesting area which captures all the goings on.

Lesley said: “The Gentoo have just started their nest building they would build nests in the wild as well but here at Edinburgh zoo we give them concrete nests ring and then we will put piles of pebbles within the enclosure and they will collect the pebbles and fill up the nest rings themselves and its all part of their courtship display.

“Not only does it help keep the eggs and the chicks up off the ground and keep the nest nice and secure its part of the courtship, the males will select pebbles and offer them too the females and the females. If they like the pebbles will take them off the males and tuck them into the nest,” she added.

The pebbles are an important part of the mating ritual and the best pebbles are highly sought after. The penguins like smooth, round pebbles or flat pebbles, no jagged edges that could damage the eggs. The Hour logo was painted on to one of the pebbles and they will keep track of the pebble as it moves nests through out the breeding season.

Lesley said: “There is a lot of rivalry that goes on there’s a lot of rivalry over the nest sites initially and them over the pebbles… they are quite happy to steal pebbles from other nests if they like the look of a particular pebble particularly if the owners attention is distracted else where, they will just come straight in and whip any pebble out that they fancy.”

The zoo already has 95 eggs and is hoping to see the same successful breeding season as they did last year, where they had over 100. The chicks are due in May and the zoo is keen to share this exciting event via the webcam.

Keep up with the penguin antics on the Edinburgh Zoo webcam.

Andy Warhol Penguin Collector?

April 22, 2010

A longtime customer of mine (let’s call her Gwen) is moving to Florida and needed to relieve herself of about 40 years of penguin collecting.  I was honored that she thought of Penguin Place and our P-Bay Section (which is for used, vintage and collectible penguins only) as a way to help her lighten her waddling load.  But, among the hundreds of penguin items Gwen has sent us, one stands out, and I mean really stands out.  It’s a two foot tall taxidermy Adelie Penguin that stands on a half foot tall rocky pedestal.  Gwen gave me the heads up that the real live, well not really live for the last 40 years anyway, penguin was waddling my way.  But, when informing me about the Adelie she also mentioned that there was a set of two and that Andy Warhol had purchased the other Adelie.  I asked her to expand on that and this is her reply.

“My husband and I were living in Greenwich Village at the time and there were many antique stores on Bleecker Street at that time.  There were two Adelies in the window and when we went in Andy Warhol was buying one of them and we just had to have the other—they looked like twins.  I have never seen another like it.   I hope the penguin died of natural causes.  I am too much of an animal lover to accept anything else.  That was in the 70’s.  A lot of people don’t realize that the penguin is a bird—that flies underwater.  There are many layers of fine feathers that keep them warm.   I forgot which explorer it was that named the Adelie after his wife.   I don’t understand the taxidermy process–only that it preserves the animals.”

Adelie and adoring Sophie

Right now the Adelie is proudly sitting atop our bookshelf in our living room. Safe from the over enthusiastic hands of my daughters and their friends.  For the time being he’s not for sale until I decide what I want to do with him (or her).  But for now I can’t wait to bring him into Sophie’s first grade class for my Spring Penguin talk.  I hadn’t scheduled a Spring Penguin Bridge St. School Talk until my Adelie friend waddled in.  Like any proud penguin papa, I just want to show him off.

Rose makes a new penguin pal.

Penguin Happy Hour in K.C.

April 22, 2010

Kansas City, MO – Celebrating Earth Day all week long at the Kansas City Zoo.  Help bring penguins to the Zoo by attending Pints for Penguins on Thursday, April 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. This “Penguin Happy Hour” should be waddle-ful fun.

18 Tennessee Tuxedos

April 22, 2010

The Penguin Post has learned that Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has dedicated its new penguin exhibit.
The Penguin Playhouse is the most expensive addition to the aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee during its decade of existence.
There are 18 African black-foot penguins in the 4,000-square-foot exhibit, which includes a 30,000-gallon saltwater tank.
Aquarium officials told The Knoxville News Sentinel another dozen of the aquatic birds will be added.
Two clear underwater tunnels allow children to crawl into above-water bubbles to see the penguins up close.

Invasion Of Cool Penguin Figurines

April 21, 2010

When I ordered about 20 different limited edition penguin figurines from Westland Giftware a few weeks ago I had no idea how cool, unique and genuinely funny they’d be until I began opening their boxes to photograph them for    Penguin Place.  From the Peace Penguin, to Ice Skaters, to 1920’s Flapper Penguins, Pirates, Waiters, Roman Wine Drinking Penguins to Penguin Chefs.  As I anxiously opened their boxes each new penguin topped the last and the size (between 5 and 6 inches) and attention for detail was equally impressive.

Did I say I like these?   Anyway, I am so impressed I just sent out a Penguin Place Update to my penguin fans pretty much just for these items.  I figure with Mother’s Day and graduation just around the corner these would make great penguin gifts.

Get Ready For International Penguin Day

April 19, 2010

Next week on April 25th we at Penguin Place and penguin lovers all over the world will observe Penguin Day by doing three things:

a) Wear only black and white.
Tradition allows for a red bowtie on a white shirt but this is optional.
b) Sometime during the day, everyone is encouraged to enjoy a repast of strawberries and chocolate (In any combination).

c) Be prepared to share a good Penguin Joke with your friends. Ideally,this joke should be clean, inoffensive, topical, very funny, mercifully short, and about penguins.

Penguin Day began many years ago when someone at NWC (Naval Weapons Center in Ridgecrest, California) became aware of the migration habits of the Antarctic penguin, the harvest cycle of California strawberries, and the shipping data of worldwide chocolate exporters. On April 25th of every year, the formally-clad penguins of the Antarctic continent begin an incredible northward migration. Penguins are unique in that they are the only migratory birds that don’t fly (they swim). They are also unique in that unlike, say, the Crested Egret, apparently penguins don’t take migration all that seriously. In fact, the penguin’s migratory habits are an embarrassment to most instinctively compulsive species. They start their migration in that same wonderfully grand fashion that, say, the Canadian Geese do. On cue, in synchronicity with some mysterious call of Nature, penguins of great number and varied breeds all dive into that “wild blue under” and head North.

Curiously, they only swim about a hundred miles or so from the ice shelf (or whatever) and, after enjoying an extended “krill break”, they all shrug (as only penguins can) and seem to lose interest in migrating. After bobbing about for a while like millions of undecided, leaderless penguins (which they are), they all head back South and are home by suppertime.

Incredibly, on April 25, on that very same day that the penguins are involved in the above-described odyssey, the Great California Strawberry Harvest takes place. More strawberries are picked, washed, and boxed up in the San Joaquin Valley on that day than in all other places worldwide all year long.

Finally, just to round out the symmetrical convergence of these otherwise unrelated events, the world’s biggest chocolate exporter, Nestle, always ships its greatest tonnage of chocolate during the week of April 25th. It all has to do with cocoa bean futures, Swiss bank practices, and international export regulations.

One may be hard-put to imagine another day of the year that cries out for recognition more eloquently than does April 25th. We call it Penguin Day.