Sunday, February 08, 2009

If you don't like penguins, stop reading now

I have just watched March of the Penguins, and I have a whole new respect for them. (Penguins.) I am going to tell you some facts about penguins - actually, I am going to tell you an interesting and informative story about penguins. If you've seen March of the Penguins it's pretty much an abridged version of that. As Morgan Freeman so tenderly narrates, this is a story about Love. (Also Penguins, but mainly Love. No wait actually it's more about the Penguins but whatever.)

Penguins, as you know, live in the Antarctic (I think) and, like pandas, are covered in tiny oily feathers. Just kidding about that. They're actually covered in black and white rhinestones. Here is a nice picture of some penguins in action:

Yeah! Go penguins.

Anyway, each March the penguins get out of the water, where they live, and walk over 70 miles to their breeding grounds. 70 miles is a long way to walk! Especially when you are a penguin and keep falling over. Off they go in a long line - which is not unlike the veteran's sections of the ANZAC day parade - and walk day and night until they get there.

Here they are, walking. Notice the one in the middle has fallen over.

I tried to find a picture of an ANZAC day parade that looks like that, but a) there were no pictures and b) I felt slightly mean, but come on. Don't tell me you've never watched a parade where a long line of penguin-shaped veterans walked ridiculously slowly in a stoic line. Yeah...see?

Unlike with the veterans, the next thing that happens is the penguins get to the breeding grounds, and proceed to search for a mate. When they find one, this is what happens:

I don't know if you know this, but that picture you just looked at is penguin porn. (Zoologists mostly refer to it as 'pornguin.')

Anyway after all that the man penguin and the lady penguin (who we will call Frank and Doris) sit about for a bit and wait for Doris to produce the egg.

Once Doris has produced the egg, it sits under a flap of feather-and-rhinestone covered skin, resting on her feet. This is easy to picture if you imagine that you could control that little roll of fat on your belly - lift it up with some previously undiscovered fat-roll-muscle, shove an egg underneath it with your feet (the fat roll is on your feet) and then cover the egg up again with the fat roll. You also need to pretend your fat roll is covered in feathers and that you are a penguin.

Then, once this has been done, Doris realises that she is really hungry, and asks Frank to take the egg for a bit. Frank is a modern man (or penguin) and says Of Course Darling. Then Frank and Doris practice a very complex little dance where Doris passes the egg to Frank, from on top of her feet to on top of his. This is important because if the egg falls on the ground it will freeze and the chick will DIE, and then the 70 mile walk, and the pornguin, and the waiting have all been a complete waste of time. So you do not want Frank to drop the egg.

"Fuck," said Frank.

Provided Frank doesn't drop the egg, once it's on his feet Doris walks 70 miles back to the water and eats a lot. Then she walks back to Frank, who has now been standing about in the cold for 4 months or so without any food...but the chick has hatched and is sitting snugly under Frank's fat roll!

Provided he does not drop it.

If something should happen to Doris while she's away (i.e. eaten by leopard seal) then Frank will stand there for ages and ages, waiting for her to come back. But she won't, and then the chick will die, because Frank has nothing to feed it. Fucking leopard seals.

When Doris gets back, safe and sound, she locates Frank, which is not always easy because penguins all kind of look the same, and there is a lot of "Oh sorry I thought you were someone else." When Doris gets the chick back on her feet, it's Frank's turn to walk 70 miles for food. Doris feeds the chick by regurgitating stuff, which is kind of gross, but it's OK because the chick is really cute. See? Look how cute he is.

Frank and Doris wander back and forth for months and months feeding the chick, until the chick is strong enough to look after itself...and then they all live happily ever after swimming about in the water. Yay! Look at the little penguin in the middle. You just know he's going YAY!!!1

Isn't that a cool little story? The moral is that penguins rock. Except, possibly, for when they're doing this.

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