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Penguin of the Year voting opens

Published: 15 September 2021

Penguins Feb 2021 104

Little penguin/kororā Flip at Penguin Cove

Who will be voted 2021 Penguin of the Year? Has life in lockdown affected Captain’s chances of winning the crown two years in a row? Mr Mac built such a good nest this year that Draco moved in - will he be this year’s winner? Then again, hopes were high for Mo to take out the title. After all, he has been a finalist three years in a row. Earlier this year he would wait patiently for his turn to eat, but he’s since returned to his bad boy ways. This election is as unpredictable as ever!

From today, Wednesday 15th September, voting is open on the National Aquarium’s website.

“More than 70 votes were cast in the first 15 minutes of voting opening this morning. Don’t miss your chance to vote for your favourite to make the finals!” says National Aquarium General Curator Joe Woolcott.

The three finalists will be announced on Thursday 23rd September. Fans will then need to make their next vote count - they’ll head to the online ballot box again and vote for their favourite flippered finalist up until Tuesday 28th September. The coveted Penguin of the Year winner for 2021 will be revealed on Thursday 30th September.

The whole kororā crew at the National Aquarium of New Zealand are held in high esteem by visitors, but ever since their keepers started awarding Penguin of the Month in June 2017, their popularity has grown in leaps in bounds.

Last year, votes came in by their thousands from many countries around the world. With regular social media posts about the birds’ antics attracting hundreds of comments each time, Joe expects the 2021 competition to be just as exciting.

“Our recent lockdown saw an increased interest in our penguins’ activities through our online channels. Their fan base is bigger than ever,” says Joe.

If voters want insights into the characteristics of the candidates, they can book a Little Penguin Close Encounter, subject to pandemic restrictions.

“Voters will be able to get up close and personal with their favourite candidates. It’s a great way to help decide who to vote for.”

If last minute changes to Alert Level settings means that the Aquarium must close, then penguin fans can book an online Live Virtual Penguin Encounter.

“Our online Virtual Penguin Encounters means our fans don’t have to worry about another lockdown stopping their encounter,” says Joe.

All of the National Aquarium of New Zealand’s Little Penguins are there because they need help from the Aquarium’s specialist staff. They arrived as abandoned chicks, victims of dog attacks, partially sighted, or have become sick in the wild. Some are missing flippers due to getting caught in fishing nylon.

The Aquarium’s Penguin Cove facility is a rehabilitation centre for little penguins, assisting with recovery of sick or injured birds and returning them to the wild. Some penguins are not strong enough to return to their natural habitats, so they find a permanent home at Penguin Cove. The penguins have lots of space to waddle across their own private beach and then dart through the water as they go about their penguin business.

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