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Published: 30 September 2021


It’s official – this year’s cutest, very best penguin as voted by the National Aquarium of New Zealand’s followers, is Mo. It was a landslide victory for Mo who received 69 per cent of the votes. He was followed by Burny in second place and her boyfriend Martin in third.

Loved for his mischievous antics, Mo’s group of passionate followers campaigned hard. After three years as a finalist, he finally has his flippers on the trophy for Penguin of the Year 2021.

Amy Giddens, Keeper at the National Aquarium of New Zealand says Penguin of the Year is a lot of fun, but has a bigger purpose.

“It’s a way to help our followers, and people across New Zealand and the world, understand more about the challenges little penguins and other wildlife face, and how we can help protect them. Sharing the stories of our little penguins and how they came to live at the National Aquarium creates a greater understanding about what we can all do for their conservation.”

“Our penguins arrived as abandoned chicks, victims of attacks from unleashed dogs, injured with partial sight, or after becoming sick in the wild. Some are missing flippers due to getting caught in fishing nylon. We help sick or injured birds and enable them to return to the wild. Some penguins aren’t strong enough to return to their natural habitats, so they find a permanent home with us at Penguin Cove,” says Amy.

There were close to 11,000 votes in the 2021 Penguin of the Year competition.

“When the voting for the finals went live, the National Aquarium website received so many visitors it was briefly overwhelmed and required some quick assistance from the tech team to get it back on its feet,” says Amy.

The whole little penguin crew at the National Aquarium are held in high esteem by visitors, and their popularity has continued to grow since Penguin of the Month began in June 2017.

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