An endangered breed of penguin known primarily for its hatred of social activities has finally Made It, winning both New Zealand’s critical bird-of-the-year poll and my personal bird-that-makes-me-feel-too-seen poll, the latter of which is an achievement indeed.
According to the Guardian, the aforementioned avian—described by the publication as an“antisocial penguin that communicates by screaming,” be still my beating heart— is a hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin. The species is endemic to New Zealand, and is so endangered it got more votes in New Zealand’s poll than living birds remain; indeed, if drastic measures aren’t taken, the hoiho could be extinct in 30 years.
This is distressing, and not just because the penguin’s social proclivities speak so specifically to me. Certainly, though, they do—though the hoiho and I are both “charismatic and gorgeous,” (sources: the Guardian, my journals), we are also “a very antisocial species” and do not “don’t nest within sight of other penguins,” which for me is true both in the case of penguins and humans, though I’d perhaps be more inclined to nest closer to the former.
When hoiho penguins do get together, though, things get quite loud, per Yolanda van Heezik, an associate professor of zoology at the University of Otago:
But when mates do return home to each other, they stand upright, flipper to flipper, and begin what Dr van Heezik called “an ecstatic ceremony”.
“They are screamingly happy to see each other again,” she said.
Penguins who hate being near other penguins, but also love their partners so much they scream in delight when reunited? Do not let these good boys and girls die out! Congratulations to the hoiho on their rightful bird award, and do tell me where I can donate to conservation efforts to keep them afloat. (Update: donate here!)