In Praise of Penguin 337

Reprinted from an editorial from The Guardian in the U.K.

It’s always splendid to see the small grab big attention, and – a mere 60cm tall, too little even to be deemed a boy or girl – Penguin 337 has certainly done that. The bird’s great break from Tokyo Sea Life Park triggered wildly hopeful sightings right across Japan, some hundreds of miles away. His (or is that her?) confirmed discovery swimming serenely in nearby Tokyo bay was less dramatic, but established that this was one unflappable bird. Scaling the park’s 12-foot walls on flippers was no mean feat, but then 337’s Humboldt species is reliably game. These little Latin Americans look like classically cute waddlers in the Pingu mould, but are hardy and versatile. They can nest in the dry of the Atacama desert, and are – as BBC footage confirms – perfectly capable of skiing on sand, and indeed on the backs of sea lions. But they are vulnerable to warming seas. Let 337’s heartening dash for freedom serve as a reminder not to forget the soaring mercury.

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