1 Oct 2020

Penguin of the Year 2020: who is in the running?

11:14 am on 1 October 2020

The Little Penguins at the National Aquarium in Napier are vying to become Penguin of the Year.

Penguin of the year candidates from left, Martin, Draco, Mo.

Penguin of the year candidates from left, Martin, Draco, Mo. Photo: National Aquarium of New Zealand

Draco, the long-time partner of 2018's winner, got the title last year and is once again in the running.

This is the third year of the National Aquarium's competition.

Supervisor of birds Rebekah Cuthbert told Morning Report there were new favourites in the mix of candidates this year.

"Mo - who has always been a popular candidate - and there seems to be a lot of support for Captain and his amazing nest-building skills over the past couple of months."

Then there's naughty Martin, one of the newer residents at the penguin cove.

"It's taken him a bit of time to find his space in there but he's a bit mischievous sometimes.

"He likes to chase the other penguins away from his burrow, which is fine because it is his territory, but he takes it to the extreme and has got quite a large territory.

"If we're there and they're having a squabble over territory and things like that then we'll give a helping hand, because we don't want anybody hurt."

Flip - as the name suggests - is missing one flipper and is also Captain's partner.

Dave, who is the couple's baby, is two years old.

"He's been getting up to a bit of mischief. He's sort of just realised that it's breeding season and he's been furiously building himself a nest and trying to find himself a girlfriend."

Voting opened at the National Aquarium's website this morning and closes at 10pm on 7 October.

The next round of voting will be for the finalists on 9 October, and the winner will be announced on 15 October.

The full list of candidates:

  • Dave like a typical teenager thinks he rules the roost and often tries to chase other penguins away from the feed station (though the older boys know how to put him in his place). He has fun chasing the keeper's window cleaner. He's taken a shine to Draco (Timmy's girlfriend), spending a bit of time together in her burrow while Timmy is out frolicking in the water.
  • Martin quickly made a name for himself as a cassanova. Despite his initial arrival, Martin appears to have settled down with Burny. They're often found being quite lazy together. In April this year, he shared 'Naughty Penguin of the Month' with Dave after they were constantly squabbling at feeding time.
  • Burny has picked up on some of Mo's bad habits pecking others in the face during feeding time, stealing Mo's fish, and abandoning her egg in her friend Draco's burrow. She's three years old, and her boyfriend is Martin (who she ditched recently to spend more time with the girls!).
  • Captain lost his right eye in an altercation with another sea bird and must be fed from his left side. He and Flip are together and share a burrow. He is a good dad and is punctual when it comes to feeding times - eats first and leaves first. His home renovation efforts were recently commended in Penguin of the Month.
  • Flip is generally a well behaved penguin. She is a good role model, swims well, eats nicely, stands up for her boyfriend when younger birds are picking on him and knows how to penguin well. However last year, she abandoned her boyfriend Captain and their baby for an entire week.
  • Draco is one of the oldest penguins. She's very friendly and is often visiting other penguins in their burrows. She and Timmy are our power couple, however Dave has recently been spending a bit of time with her in her burrow. She's known for helping Burny look after her egg and sticking up for Timmy when Tux tried to push him off the pier.
  • Mo is one of the naughtiest penguin (appearing on the list more than any other penguin). The name and shame seems to have worked and although still naughty, his behaviour has improved. His previous antics include hoarding nesting materials, stealing fish from other penguins (he stole nine fish in one go in March when he made the Naughty Penguin of the Month) and can be lazy.
  • Betty is generally a well behaved penguin (goody two-shoes) and was the first ever Good Penguin of the Month. She loves swimming all day which is good for penguins and always waits patiently for her food - not like the others. She lives with Mo and does her best to keep him on the straight and narrow!
  • Tux is a handsome, popular and boisterous penguin. He can be a bad boy, has pushed Timmy off the pier and more recently chased other penguins away from the feed station, often getting in a tussle with Martin who tends to stand his ground.
  • Timmy was voted the winner for our first Penguin of the Year in 2018, battling it out with Mo to take the crown. He was also one of the finalists last year with Mo again and also his girlfriend Draco. He was our first ever Naughty Penguin of the Month back in 2017. He has a habit of stealing fish, knocking other penguins out of the way to get the food and flicking sand at the keepers. His behaviour has improved though and he's managed to stay off the Naughty Penguin of the Month board all year!
  • Pepper is Mr Mac and Lulu's chick. She is one of the smaller penguins and is one of the prettiest. She looks after herself well and has an eye for detail. She and Tux are seen as the popular couple. She's generally a good penguin, encouraging Tux to go swimming, but also plays with her food at times. In June this year, she was really well behaved when getting treatment on her feet.
  • Mr Mac is a sweetie but tends to think he's better than everyone else, refusing to take fish off visitors if they're 'not worthy'. Usually kind to his predominantly blind girlfriend Lulu, he fell from grace when he tried to steal her fish last year, but has redeemed himself earlier this year by doing really well with his swimming!
  • Lulu is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other due to a birth defect. This doesn't put her off swimming however, even though she tends to swim in circles. Early this year she shared the title of Naughty Penguin of the Month with her boyfriend Mr Mac for being a bit lazy and not getting their nesting materials ready.
  • Dora has been been awarded 'naughty penguin of the month' for pecking male keepers and needing escorting to and from the feed station. She's a bit of a princess and plays up to the keepers, changing her allegiance as she sees fit. She loves hanging out at the front of the pool to greet visitors.

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