Have you ever wondered who the world’s favorite penguin is- not just the favorite species, but that special penguin individual who has captured the most human hearts? Well look no further! Penguins International‘s March of the Penguin Madness Tournament has declared an official winner.
Penguins International is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and facilitate penguin conservation around the world through awareness, education, and various conservation and preservation-focused projects. The March of the Penguin Madness event was created to raise awareness for the organization and for penguin conservation issues in general.
The contest featured several individual penguins from a variety of different species. From the world’s oldest African Penguin, ET from the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia, to Hugh, a Gentoo Penguin who is the oldest penguin in all of Ireland, the contest highlighted some beloved zoo personalities which are beloved and familiar to voters around the world.
While voters cheered on their local favorites, only one penguin could reign supreme. In the end, the most popular penguin turned out to be Spike. Spike is a King Penguin who was born in 2007. When he was a chick, Spike’s parents failed to properly care for him, leading to the need for Spike to be hand-reared by human keepers. Spike is a gregarious character who currently resides at Birdland in the Cotswolds.
It is not entirely surprising that Spike ran, or rather waddled, away with the prize, thanks to his status as a celebrity, at least amongst penguin-lovers. Spike was featured in a David Attenborough television program entitled “Natural Curiosities.” He also had his very own designated segment on the show “Penguins Make You Laugh Out Loud.”
Spike may be a celebrity, but his win was actually much more of a nail-biter than you might expect. The runner-up, an African Penguin from Maui, Hawaii, named Mai, was defeated by an extremely narrow margin. Spike received 50.5 percent of the votes, while Mai only received 49.5 percent.
In any case, it is hoped that Spike’s unique personality as well as the pageantry of the competition will spread awareness for the plight of penguins around the world. While King Penguins like Spike are not currently considered endangered or threatened, African Penguins like Mai face a much more challenging predicament. They are endangered and decreasing throughout their natural range. This is the plight of many of the delicate penguin populations around the globe, and the reason for such awareness events as this competition.