Penguin lost, penguin found!
Two months ago, a one-year-old Humboldt penguin scaled a 13-foot rock wall, squeezed through barbed wire and literally flew the coop from its harborside aquarium in the Tokyo Sea Life Park. Due to its youthful age, the penguin’s gender had not yet been determined and keepers have been referring to him or her as “Penguin 337.”
The Guardian reports that video footage has shown the penguin “frolicking,” and apparently in good health, in a different part of Tokyo Bay:
“You can see it’s got the same ring around its flipper and identical facial patterns,” said Kazuhiro Sakamoto, deputy director of the Tokyo Sea Life Park, when shown footage of the escapee taken by Japan‘s coastguard.
“It didn’t look like it had got thinner over the past two months, or been without food. It didn’t seem to be any weaker. So it looks as if it has been living quite happily in the middle of Tokyo Bay.”
After discovering back in March that Penguin 337 had gone missing from its enclosure with some 135 other penguins, the aquarium sent keepers out daily to hunt for the escapee; they also sent out an appeal to Tokyo residents. Hundreds of people reported sightings but Sakamoto said that most of them were probably of cormorants.
Tokyo aquarium staff say that the penguin has most likely been “gorging on small fish in the bay during daylight hours and returning to the shore at night to rest.”
Tokyo Bay is not the most pleasant place to spend one’s days. Tokyo itself is crowded and densely populated and some have expressed worries about how dirty the bay’s water is, and of the possibility of radiation.
With all the hazards of survival in an urban setting, Penguin 337 seems to be finding life beyond the aquarium and the barbed wire to be all right. Sakamoto attributed his or her flight to a “sense of adventure” — Penguin 337 is surely getting a full taste of life on the run and back in the wild (if you can call Tokyo’s urban environs such).
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Photo of Humboldt penguin by naitokz