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Mr Mac clinches election at 11th hour

Published: 13 September 2023

Social Posts Phase 3 V1.1 Sept 20233

2023 winner Mr Mac

Thousands of appreciative fans from around the world have named little penguin Mr Mac the new kororā penguin of the year. 

Both Mr Mac and Mo had the potential to pick up the prize, with 30% of the total votes going to these two.

Rebekah Cuthbert, Supervisor of Birds at the National Aquarium says it was a hard fought campaign.

“Both Mr Mac and Mo were heads and flippers above of the rest of the pack, but Mr Mac had the competitive edge right at the very end.”

Most votes came from New Zealand, followed by the USA and UK. Votes were also received from Australia, Canada, Spain, India and Sweden.

Rebekah says Penguin of the Year is a lot of fun, but its purpose is to help people understand the challenges kororā face in the wild. 

“We’ve enjoyed reading through the comments from those who have voted, many thanking us for the work we do as well as more understanding being gained from the stories we’ve shared about each of our kororā,” explains Rebekah.

“We’ve seen an increase in understanding from our followers about what they can do to help such as keeping dogs on leads to minimise risk to wildlife and picking up litter when on the beach.”

Mr Mac’s prize for taking out 2023 Penguin of the Year is a special treat of extra fish.


More about Mr Mac

Mr Mac is 14 years old and although abandoned as a chick himself, is a wonderful father to Pepper. While he is a real sweetie he sometimes thinks he’s better than everyone else, refusing to take fish off visitors if they’re ‘not worthy’. Mr. Mac’s nest building for his girlfriend Draco, rivals Martin’s.  He is totally doting when Draco forgets where she is or what she should be doing, giving her little reminders about how to penguin and accompanying her at feeding time.  Recently we’ve seen better colony behaviour with a “most improved” awarded for voluntary weigh-in training.

Quotes from voters:

  • “Kaewa looks lovely. Actually they all do, but as I can only vote for one, Kaewa gets my vote. Cheers from San Antonio Texas. (Please don’t divulge my vote to the other penguins. I don’t want hurt feelings.)” - USA
  • “I love them all! Thank you for sharing your Little Penguins with the world. Their photos and antics bring much joy to me. At least this way I get to see them.” – USA
  • “We love following these adorable penguins' antics and thank you for all you do for them. We live in the Scottish Highlands and our business is called The Tartan Penguin!” – UK
  • “Thanks for organising this event every year! My wife and I always look forward to the monthly penguin of the month posts, and we love voting for our favourite penguins!” – Singapore
  • “I love your penguins! Thanks for taking care of them!” – Philippines


More information about Little Penguins at NANZ:

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

The National Aquarium’s Penguin Cove facility is a rehabilitation centre for kororā, 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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