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Penguins from Ipanema

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Animal Updates | Birds | Penguins | Volunteering

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hundreds of their kindred comrades had succumbed to changes in their environment that they could not adapt in time to. Far from their normal range sick and dying Magellanic Penguins were washing ashore on Brazilian beaches better known in song than for black and white flightless aquatic birds. To do its part in trying to help these forlorn avians the Aquarium of the Pacific took in a small group of these distressed penguins to give them medical treatment and a home. Yet despite their tragic back story these “Brazilians” and their antics have gotten this particular aquarium volunteer smiling and humming “The Penguin from Ipanema” (Ipanema is a beach in Rio de Janeiro Brazil) during his Saturday encounters with them.

The Brazilians shared their holding and treatment pad with the other group of Magellanic Penguins known as the “Zoo Birds” that came to the Aquarium from another zoological facility. The “Zoo Birds” are fun and interesting in their own right but seemed to keep a strict penguin/human interaction protocol that suggests that they don’t mind having you around but they know you are not a penguin!

The Brazilians on the other hand, having had humans basically save their lives, seem to treat the staff as part of their penguin gang. They will haul out and hang around you for no other reason than they want to share some SoCal rays with you. These are the penguins that I’ve gotten to know the best. So without further ado, let me introduce you to some of my favorite penguins…The Brazilians!

The Penguins from Ipanema. Robbie, Roxy, Kate and Avery. I’m really not sure just what beach in Brazil these penguins actually stranded at. I figure that Ipanema would suit as a generic representative for Brazilian beaches. | Hugh Ryono


The way that I recognize these penguins from Brazil is partly through how they look and partly through the personality that they show around me.

The penguin known as Robbie with Assistant Curator Rob at the Molina Marine Animal Care Center during a foot treatment session. | Hugh Ryono

ROBBIE: When I first met these penguins he was the first one to come near me to check me out. I noticed that the other Brazilians tended to follow his lead when he would waddle around the pad. He’s definitely the leader of this little band of penguins. When Robbie was still undergoing treatment for a foot ailment he was occasionally separated into a dry area away from the pool. The rest of the group would call out to him even though they couldn’t see him. When he called back they started quite a chorus. I guess it was comforting for them to hear each other.

ROXY: Roxy is the bold and brash one of the group. Roxy will fearlessly hop over or on you if you are sitting just to see if you have a toy to play with. When I first took my camera into the pad I was concentrating on getting a shot of another penguin (Avery) when I felt a tug at my hanging camera strap. It was Roxy wanting to check out my camera.

KATE: I always get the feeling that when Kate is looking at me she is analyzing me to try to figure out just what kind of penguin I am and am I worthy enough for her presence. The curious way that she stares at things has me convinced that she’s the most intelligent one of the group.

Avery cranes his neck seemingly posing after making his way to the front of the group. | Hugh Ryono

AVERY: Avery is the sweet and innocent one of the group. He seems to have a fascination for gadgets that I happen to bring by particularly smart phones with bright colorful screens. Avery also has the whole cute penguin waddle thing down pat. I like the way he waddles around in front of his pen mates and crane his neck up as if he wants to make sure that you see him when you’re in there with them. It’s almost like he knows it’s adorable and is doing it just to get you to say “ah”.

Speaking of “ahs”…

….Black and white and cute and cuddly
The penguin from Ipanema goes waddling
And when she passes, each one she passes goes - ah…
(Sung to the tune of The Girl From Ipanema.)

Now that their exhibit is finished everyone can get a peek at these Penguins From Ipanema and say “ah”.

Penguins from Ipanema
Me hanging out with the penguins known as the Brazilians in their holding pad. Kate is the one closest to the camera. Avery and Roxy are checking out my boots. Robbie is the one in the back.

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