Okay so I’ve given this rant in person many times over, but I’ve never written it down.
I used to be like you – thinking penguins are super cute and innocent little creatures. In fact, my ex-boyfriend Tommy hated penguins when we were dating. He loves telling a story about the time he got to “kick” one. Before you send me hate mail, all he really did was push it away with his toe… but he loves to pretend he did more. When I moved to Ireland that winter, I hid ~100 rubber penguins all over his apartment.
But now? Post-Antarctica? Fuck penguins, man.
In the winter, penguins huddle together for warmth and for protection from the wind. I’ve chased a dumpster down the street with a pal in those same winds; they can pretty instense. Unlike a dog or hamster they don’t go off in the corner to poop. And they poop… a lot. So much that you can see their poop on satellites and researchers can use it to track colonies. They found a whole new colony or two they didn’t even know about by looking for poop via satellite. Plus, it exits the penguin with a force 4 times stronger than human poop so you know it gets over everyone and everything around them. Humboldt penguins even purposefully mate in their poop.
So first, they are covered in this gooey sticky poop that is so pungent you can smell the colonies for miles away.
Speaking of mating, that’s not all that makes penguins awful… You see, it’s well known thanks to Disney movies and the like that penguins mate for life and they do that cute pebble thing and all that.
What people don’t know, is that penguins continue to mate post-mortem.
The original penguin researchers WAY back in the day (like 1910) observed penguin necrophilia. Dr. George Murray Levick R.N, a medical officer on the expedition, wrote about it in another language in his own notebooks because he found it that appalling.
Why have you never heard about this? Conservatives at the time refused to publish it with the rest of the expedition reports! The notes were kept and circulated in private but not publicly released. Look up a document called “The Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin, Not for Publication.”
It also includes accounts of rape and sexual abuse of baby penguin chicks but that’s not what we’re focusing on here.
By now, I hope you’re imagining a hoard of penguins covered in gooey, sticky poo and mating with their decaying friends and family… because I am. And you have to image that chunks of dead loved one are naturally going to be sticking to these penguins, especially in the winter when they’re huddling together in large groups and not hopping in the water as much.
So this is where this gets fun.
The Antarctic Treaty includes wildlife provisions that boil down to “leave no effect.” This means you’re not supposed to, in any way, cause a reaction from the wildlife. If a skua (think 2′ tall pidgeon) dive-bombs you because it wants your french fries, I was told the appropriate reaction is to cover your face with one arm and just keep walking. You can’t bat at it or try to scare it away.
You’re not allowed to approach wildlife or distrurb it. This means if a penguin wants to stroll down the main thoroughfaire, you must just chill and let it do its thing. There’s a postcard in the gift shop at McMurdo that some of you may have received titled “Traffic Jam” that shows a line of cars waiting on a penguin in the middle of the road. Through a few inquiries while on Ice, I also found out that planes will be held up if there is a penguin on the runway. Only a very small number of people (I was told one but I cannot validate that information) are allowed to interact with the wildlife. I was told that to remove a bird from a runway that person can waive a piece of cardboard at it to annoy it but they aren’t supposed to scare it. Perhaps one of my friends still on Ice can get us more details around those policies.
Towards the start of summer at McMurdo I was up in one of the workshops around town. The door was open and a penguin just waddled right up to it. Had he wanted to come inside, we would have had to have let him.
And now, the rest of this is pure folklore.
Put all this together.
Imagine an adelie penguin. It’s the end of winter. He’s covered in poop. He just got done fucking his dead wife. He’s looking for a snack.
What does he see?
The galley is unloading in some new freshies and meat from the supply warehouse. They have the doors thrown open because it’s a nice day.
The galley staff would have to just sit back and watch as this penguin waddle around thier kitchen dropping shit and decaying penguin matter all over the place. They’d have to then wait til he left and clean all that up before finishing cooking lunch.
I’m not going to kink-shame penguins, but don’t leave the leftover bits of your sexual endeavors in my kitchen.
Just because it never happened to me, doesn’t mean it couldn’t have.
Penguins are the worst.
(cover image source © University of Oxford )