Penguins chasing a butterfly

A lovely antidote to Monday morning stress! The only part about this that's a bummer? These wonderful, wild critters are stuck in a zoo.

Video link: Humboldt Penguins chasing a butterfly at the Philadelphia Zoo
[Submitterated by voightkamff, video by Marty McGuire]

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  1. Life outside the zoo most likely consists of struggling to find food and being eaten by seals. I think they’re probably enjoying chasing butterflies and being well-fed.

  2. even though I knew there was going to be a butterfly in the video, my first perception was that it was a little fish flopping around. probably triggered a pretty basic instinct in the penguins to pursue it.

    1. Why does everyone think penguins only come from the Antarctic? Humboldt penguins come from the top half of Chile and their distribution almost reaches the equator.

  3. “These wonderful, wild critters are stuck in a zoo.”

    …where they’re fed tasty penguin food regularly, receive excellent medical care, get to play and swim and get lots of mental stimulation, can breed freely, and chase butterflies. Sounds great to me.

  4. The only part about this that’s a bummer? That Xeni doesn’t seem to know about the habitat and species saving research and fundraising that goes on for these wonderful critters at said zoos.

    The New England Aquarium in Boston has a fantastic penguin habitat as one of the centerpieces to their exhibits. They have an led flashlight with a fish-shaped filter mounted on the side of one of their aquatic tanks. I’m not the only adult who waits his turn behind the kids playing with it. It’s exactly analogous to a laser pen and a cat.

  5. Life in the wild:

    1. Try all day to find food. If not successful, starve to death.

    2. Try all day not to get eaten by something bigger. If not successful, get violently ripped apart and eaten.

    As long as you’re keeping animals in a reasonably naturalistic environment, their lives are almost always better off in a zoo. Plus, there’s the species conservation and breeding work, and the outreach and education for the public.

    What have you got against zoos, Xeni?

  6. I tend to think of zoo animals as martyrs to their race. Yes, they have a relatively safe life in the zoo, but their instincts are also thwarted. The penguins (not sure what species) at our local exhibit show classic stereotyped behavior of animals going nuts.

  7. Actually many penguins, including these, DO NOT live in cold, snowy habitats as most people assume. Penguins seeing butterflies in the wild is not out of the question.

  8. Teh cute penguins chase-ed teh flutterby.
    Teh peoples sez “Oooo” and “Awwww”.
    Teh peoples with a cameras go aways.
    Teh penguins eat teh flutterby.
    Teh flutterby sez “Owwwww.”

  9. This video reminds me of watching my cats chase a moth. Only, the cats can jump. The intensity of the chase and the laser-tight focus on the flying critter is nearly identical.

  10. The only thing we learn from zoos is how inhumane and selfish human beings are.

    The research is inherently flawed – no animal in captivity can behave like a free-living animal.

    Further, they’ve evolved over millions of years to live in their environments, and are quite suited to it. It’s ludicrous to think that we’re providing something ‘better’ for them.

    Most of these arguments were also used to justify human captivity. “It’s better for them.” “I’d rather be a slave in their position than blah blah blah.”

    This all sidesteps the point: we aren’t them, and captivity does not trump freedom. We abolished human slavery for this reason, and hopefully one day this will occur for non-human animals.

    Xeni has the right attitude, and we should be questioning the dominating attitudes that are so embedded in our psyches.

    – Vegan Dave

    1. “This all sidesteps the point: we aren’t them, and captivity does not trump freedom. We abolished human slavery for this reason, and hopefully one day this will occur for non-human animals.”

      I’m pretty sure the rape, murder, and forced manual labor until they died was why slavery was abolished; not to mention the slave trade itself.

    2. Humans are a part of nature. Our tendency to capture and domesticate other species for our own use, pleasure and benefit is therefore perfectly natural and to attempt to deny our natural instinct would be wrong…so wrong. Like trying to stop a penguin from chasing a butterfly.

  11. Not only do they live in a zoo, but they more than likely don’t understand or give a crap. Humans love to agonize over issues that mean nothing to non-humans.

    1. And human are delighted by recognizing issues that mean something to non-humans, like chasing a butterfly.

  12. Perhaps the penguins think of themselves as the cold-hearted killer Raptors of the Frozen South, their singleminded bloodthirst matched only by their goddamned inability to hop more than an inch off the ground. Is the butterfly screaming in mortal terror? Or mocking the flightless, dignity-free predators?

    You ask me, the insect doesn’t seem all that concerned, but don’t be fooled by the cuteness: those tuxedoed murderers would snap at the testes of an angel, if they could only reach. Their dreams are filled with rent flesh, spilled blood, stepladders, stilts, and rented gyrocopters.

  13. Petersen is on to something.
    Don’t anybody fool themselves, by thinking that penguins are not formidable predators, simply because they don’t come after us, and because of the difficulty – the great difficulty – of observing them while they hunt their prey.

    1. And the tuxedo pattern is actually the key to their secret weapon: withering disdain. Seriously, they can stun a herring at ten meters, and do it faster than a Maitre d’ can tell you your table isn’t ready yet.

  14. You have your very own number
    They dress your cage in its nature
    Once you roared now you just grunt lame
    Pace around pathetic pound games

    Wanna get out won’t miss you sensaround
    To carry your own dead to swing your tyre tricks
    Wanna get out in here you’re bred dead quick
    For the outside
    The small black flowers that grow in the sky

    They drag sticks along your walls
    Harvest your ovaries dead mothers crawl
    Here comes warden, Christ, temple, elder
    Environment not yours you see through it all

    Wanna get out won’t miss you sensaround
    To carry your own dead to swing your tyre tricks
    Wanna get out here you’re bred dead quick
    For the outside
    The small black flowers that grow in the sky

    Here chewing your tail is joy

  15. I want to make a “Sound of Thunder” or Juggalo joke, but can’t. This is too cute to be cynical!

  16. I liked that one penguin towards the end flapping its flightless wings as it observed the butterfly getting away.

  17. I am quite certain that zoos are one of (if not the)single biggest contributing factor towards the generation of conservation dollars in the world. Not to mention the multitudes of biologists, conservationists, etc that were inspired to enter the field due to a love of animals that started at thier local zoo.

  18. I’m with you in sentiment, Xeni. Zoos are prisons, even if gilded cages. These penguins are doing pretty good in spite of all that. Now elephants? They like a 100 mile stroll before breakfast. To put them in a zoo or circus is unconscionable.

  19. Penguin wings do work.

    They’re not “flightless birds” – they just do their flying underwater.

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