Emperor Pingu

by Harry Miller December 03, 2018

Penguin Painting with ocean interior

“Noot Noot!” That’s hello in "Pinguish" or "Penguinese”, and is the language spoken by the children’s TV sensation, ‘Pingu’ - possibly the most famous penguin in the world, having been broadcasted in no less than 150 countries.  

So it’s official, humans love penguins, but throughout man’s history most of the human world was completely unaware of the penguins existence: they are after all, restricted to the Southern Hemisphere, and also inhabit some of the most remote and trying regions on the planet.  This means that despite the birds comic nature and humanlike upright appearance, they’ve been mostly left out of our folklore and mythology. 

But thankfully the Maori people of New Zealand did come in contact with the animal, and they did not fail to include the penguin in their rich mythology.  Step aside Pingu, and make way for Tawaki… Tawaki the God! 

A long time ago Tawaki walked amongst men in human form, his godliness completely hidden, until one day he ascended a lofty hill where a woodcutter saw him throw aside his 'vile garments', and clothed himself in lightning.  Thus, man now knew Tawaki was a god - and one hell of an exhibitionist!; Tawaki is also known for creating a great (if not ‘The Great’) flood when he ‘cracked the crystal floor of Heaven and sent the sky waters cascading down.’    

The penguin god in question is a Fiordland penguin, whose species are famous for their striking yellow eyebrows - which themselves look appropriately like lightning bolts.  This penguin should feel quite pleased with its godlike status, as it’s only 55cm tall.  Pingu on the other hand is a much larger penguin species, the largest of them all in fact as Pingu is an Emperor penguin.  

It’s mainly larger penguins which exist in the freezing regions, and the smaller birds - like the Fiordland - tend to live in temperate, and even tropical climes.  Although there was once a very large penguin, even bigger than Emperor Pingu, that used to live in Antartica some 55 million years ago, when Antartica was actually subtropical.  Kumianu is their name, and these giant penguins stood nearly 6ft tall, weighed a hefty 225 pounds, and would have been considerably more powerful than humans if we'd been around back then.  

And if we had been around, you’d have done very well to “p-p-p-pick up” that penguin!  🤭

Harry Miller
Harry Miller


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