Friday, March 30, 2012

I was touched by Danny Devito

I must have seen too many Disney movies because every time I see animals in real life, I think about the cartoon ones from The Lion King.

And when I see big sea turtles at the aquarium, I think of the ones from Finding Nemo.

More importantly, every time I see a Basset Hound, I am immediately reminded of the bellman in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

(I just realized this is my second blog referencing Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I might have a problem.)

Um. Anyway.

I can’t help comparing real animals to the ones I see on the screen. Perhaps it’s because I don’t spend a lot of time with LIONS, so when I see one, I instinctively want to call it Simba and hold it ceremonially above my head.

My most recent exotic animal encounter was no different. Except, this time, it wasn’t a cartoon character I envisioned. It was DANNY DEVITO. In a penguin suit.

Top: The penguin who lives beneath Gotham City streets wreaking havoc on people’s first born sons. Bottom: Penguins who live at the New Orleans aquarium. 

I got to meet the ones on the bottom because my friend, Emily, an aquarist, visited me for Mardi Gras this year and as it turns out, aquarists hook each other up when they visit each other’s aquariums.

Not only did we go through the back entrance and NOT pay admission, we were invited INSIDE THE TANK for the penguin feeding!!


(Wait, vice-versa. He looked like them. Penguins were around before Oswald Cobblepot, not the other way around.)

But the same waddle, the flippers, the stinky habitat. Did he get an Oscar nomination for that portrayal??

Exhibit 1: Oswald Cobblepot

Exhibit 2: real live penguins

Well, perhpas they're not as angry as Oswald. 
(And...mind the penguin pooping. And my city girl “ewwwww” response.)

Getting to go inside the tank during the feeding was by far the coolest animal-related thing I’ve ever done. 

I even got to touch one!!!!  The feathers felt  like visqueen – waterproof and tight and moisture-wicking. 
Not like feathers at all. Maybe that’s so they can swim without getting soaked.


They made the craziest noises, too. It was like a small dog barking  noise you’d expect more from a seal than a penguin.

Some of the penguins preferred to be fed while bobbing in the water. Some preferred to eat on land. Others took their food and brought it to a hiding spot for later. 

Penguins are not overeaters like beagles are (“going up sir?”), so we had a nice, lengthy feeding time, which was done once the penguins got full and stopped circling the bucket of fish. 

I asked the penguin guide all kinds of dumb questions, blowing my cover as a fellow aquarist, and I was absolutely tickled to hear about the penguin “gay couple” - two male penguins that never leave each other’s side. 

They looked like twins!!!

Listen to that barking!!

(Side note: hearing myself on video makes me want to kill myself.)

The penguins were by far the most exciting things at the aquarium, just like the Penguin was the most exciting character in Batman Returns. 

At least now I have an image of real, live penguins  something more realistic to outweigh my useless movie impressions. 

Now we gotta work on the lions.


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